AOPA's First New Fly-In

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AOPA held the first in its series of new regional fly-ins on Sunday, at the San Marcos Airport, midway between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. Thunderstorms and IFR weather in the region reduced the number of arrivals, AOPA said -- they had expected about 700 aircraft to fly in, but only about half that number arrived. Many of those landed the day before, and took advantage of fuel discounts offered by Redbird Skyport. Some pilots drove instead, and attendance reached about 2,500, AOPA said. Events during the day included a pancake breakfast, pilot seminars and a Pilot Town Hall meeting with AOPA President Mark Baker. Weather cleared in the afternoon, and a pair of V-22 Ospreys flew by in formation, and EAA's B-17 Aluminum Overcast gave rides from the field.

The event didn't provide the wide variety of industry exhibits that were a big part of the annual Summit, which has been replaced by the regional events, but there was an exhibitors' tent with booths from vendors, and a static display included a range of about 35 GA aircraft. AOPA also offered a free "Rusty Pilots" program the night before the fly-in, which attracted about 90 pilots. Commenters on AOPA's website expressed disappointment that AOPA hadn't tried harder to invite in new people from the region to discover aviation, but AOPA said its goal was not to recruit new pilots but to spend a day interacting with its current membership. The next fly-in will be held at Indianapolis Regional Airport on May 31.