Come hang out with us this year!

by Mark Baker
AOPA President and CEO
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine June/July 2022 Digital Issue

I’M WRITING THESE words just having returned home from a whirlwind week at Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, Florida. What a great time. The days were long but filled with so much excitement, camaraderie, and aerial entertainment that the week quite literally flew by. Amid the events and meetings, I had a chance to meet with our members—reminding me that my best days are spent with you.

An airplane, blue skies, and thousands of aviation enthusiasts always puts me in a good mood. Sun ’n Fun never fails to exceed my expectations, and this year was no exception. I love spending the days talking with you—about where you’re traveling, what you’re flying and, yes, even the issues you’re coming across that impact your freedom to fly. It’s days like these that remind us of why we do what we do at AOPA.

I’m thrilled about aviation event season kicking into high gear, and more specifically, the return of AOPA events. We haven’t had one of our fly-ins since 2019, and I’ve been waiting for the all-clear to get back together in-person. And now it’s a go!

Mark your 2022 calendar and set your travel sights on Spokane, Washington; Tampa, Florida; and Fort Worth, Texas.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to attend one of our fly-in events over the years, you know how exciting and fun they are. In just the past eight years, we’ve welcomed more than 100,000 attendees to our engaging and educational gatherings across the country. We’ve seen our members in all regions—stretching from New England to Southern California, from the Pacific Northwest to Florida, and nearly everywhere in between. More than 20 wonderful destinations in all.

If there is one thing that the past few years have taught us, it’s that it’s important to gather with our friends in settings that allow us to kick back, share some stories, and simply enjoy each other’s company.

In short, we just love hanging out with our fellow aviators.

So, while we have cherished every one of our past fly-ins, we’re excited to roll out a new concept in 2022. We’re calling our events “Hangouts.” And they’ll be just like they sound, capturing the spirit of aviation in a way that brings out the best of events and the best in aviation.

Our first Hangout will take place on September 9 and 10 at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, followed by our Hangout on November 4 and 5 at Tampa Executive Airport in Florida. They are both great aviation locations, places I have long loved flying to.

These two-day Hangouts will offer everything a pilot could want—fun, food, learning, and a chance to renew old friendships and forge new ones. AOPA Hangouts will offer the ultimate experience for the GA community and aviation enthusiasts looking for an adventurous escape back to the grassroots fun of flying. Who doesn’t love pitching a tent under the wing, shooting the breeze, and telling stories (some of them true!) around a good old-fashioned campfire?

Strolling around, you’ll be able to see many aircraft displays, chat with aviation vendors, socialize with top aviation influencers, and connect with fellow aviators while enjoying food trucks, live music, and entertainment. We’ll also have staff on hand who will answer any question you have about AOPA and your membership. To cap off the days, you’ll be able to watch exciting world-class aviators facing off in a high-energy STOL demonstration.

In addition to these two Hangout events, we will be back with our Aviator Showcase in 2022. Like last year, we’ll hold this at Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Texas. Held on June 16 and 17, the Aviator Showcase will again be an amazing opportunity to meet with the industry’s leading experts in avionics and cockpit technology, flight planning and weather resources, and aircraft manufacturing and sales. Everything you and your airplane need.

Our Aviator Showcase will feature an exhibit hall, aircraft display, and educational seminars presented by event sponsors. If you’re looking to upgrade or still searching for the perfect aircraft, local services such as paint shops, avionics manufacturers, and aircraft detailers will be there to help. You can also talk to aviation finance professionals, insurers, and dealers about buying the aircraft of your dreams.

What an amazing year it’s shaping up to be. I can’t wait to see all of you at one of our AOPA events and talk all things flying. Blue skies wherever you’re flying this year. Hopefully, it’s with us!         800-872-2672

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