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Mon, Jun 05, 2006

Thousands Turn Out For 16th Annual AOPA Fly-In

Skies Of Grey Can't Keep Members Away

Despite threatening skies all day, more than 3,000 pilots and aviation enthusiasts attended the 16th annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Fly-In and Open House held last Saturday, June 3, at the Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK) headquarters of AOPA in Frederick, MD.

The highlight of the show was the launch of AOPA's newly expanded Project Pilot program, with a flag-raising ceremony featuring AOPA President Phil Boyer and AOPA Project Pilot Spokesman Erik Lindbergh.

As Aero-News reported last week in an ANN Special Feature aero-cast, Project Pilot calls on each AOPA member to become a Mentor to someone they know who is interested in learning to fly, in order to increase the number of new pilots in the aviation community. Members who signed up at Fly-In to be a Mentor received an AOPA Project Pilot duffel bag.

"Expanding the pilot population is absolutely essential to keeping general aviation in the United States strong," stated Boyer.

More than 100 aircraft flew in for the event, under the control of a temporary control tower that was set up at FDK for the day. In addition, AOPA reports that thousands of people drove to Frederick for the event.

"Each Fly-In is an opportunity for us to open our doors to our members and the general public," said Boyer. "We enjoy meeting face-to-face with the members we serve throughout the year, and also share our enthusiasm about general aviation with the public."

At his annual Fly-In "hangar session," Boyer spoke to hundreds of pilots about general aviation issues in the Mid-Atlantic Region, followed by Lindbergh's presentation about how he became a pilot and the importance of Mentors in aviation.

Next up was popular aviation humorist Rod Machado, who presented a seminar about in-flight emergencies that, in typical Machado fashion, combined laughter with education.

On the ramp, 44 general aviation aircraft were on display -- headlined by AOPA's Win a Six in '06 sweepstakes airplane, a 1967 Piper Cherokee Six. Now sporting a new avionics panel, the Cherokee attracted crowds of curious pilots throughout the day... each hoping to be the winner of the airplane early next year. Anyone who joins or renews membership in AOPA during the 2006 calendar year is automatically entered in the Sweepstakes.

Next up for "The Six" will be a fully refurbished interior, and a new paint scheme. It will make appearances at upcoming aviation shows -- including the AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, CA on November 9-11.

FMI: www.aopa.org

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