AOPA Aviation Summit opens in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday with a challenging agenda: how to get all of general aviation's advocates to work together to advance the industry. President Obama's Jobs Act may have provided a rallying cry with its shop-worn inclusion of user fees on top of fuel taxes as a new method of raising revenue. "This group in the White House can't say 'No' to user fees," AOPA President Craig Fuller told AVweb's editor-in-chief Russ Niles, on the eve of the show. (Click here for the full podcast.) "We want to help pay for the system but we want to pay at the pump." The Summit features an exhibit hall packed with aviation products for sale, keynote talks, a series of seminars aimed at light business aircraft users, static displays at the nearby Brainard Airport, and lots of social events. AVweb staffers are on site to bring you daily podcasts, videos, and reports from the show right through Saturday.
Among the events scheduled for the Summit are a series of keynote talks on the future of aviation, and a visit from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, featuring a discussion with Fuller about topics of interest to GA pilots. Fuller also will share the stage with EAA President Rod Hightower on Saturday morning for a discussion about how to make aviation attractive and accessible to a new generation of pilots. Also, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. will visit the show on Thursday to talk about the new film from George Lucas about the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails, which is due in theaters early next year.