Dress Rehearsal Completed For D.C. Flyby (Corrected)


On Sunday, four light aircraft flew where none have flown since 9/11 as a dress rehearsal for a mass flyby of Washington, D.C., set for May 11. AOPA President Mark Baker, in his Cessna Caravan, led the flight, which included AOPA VP of Airports and State Advocacy Mike Ginter (A36 Bonanza), CNN Contributor Pete Muntean (Super Decathlon) and Adam Williams in a Rockwell Commander. The flight of four went right through downtown Washington, including arguably the most secure patch of airspace on the planet, known as area P-56, which included the White House, National Mall and the vice president’s residence. On May 11, the skies above will be filled with more than 60 GA aircraft.

Baker will lead the May 11 formation in his Beech Staggerwing. The aircraft with him will represent the history and diversity of GA aircraft spanning about 100 years. From the Golden Age through the post-war era to current state-of-the-art designs, all sectors of GA, including backcountry flying, seaplanes, corporate and business aviation, technically advanced aircraft, experimental homebuilts, airshow performers and helicopters, will be represented. The flight will be livestreamed on AOPA’s YouTube channel.

An earlier version of this story described the Cessna Caravan flown by AOPA President Mark Baker as belonging to AOPA. It is owned personally by Baker. We regret the error. AOPA did own a Caravan but sold it in 2014.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


    • I agree, why? AOPA calls it a National Celebration of GA but it seems about as necessary as a Putin/Kim style parade down the streets of D.C. that was being planned a few years ago.

    • Great question. Not 1% of the US population will understand the symbolism or appreciate the event in any manner relevant to the history or significance of GA. But, if just one of those cantankerous beasts falls out of the air everyone in the world with a TV or SM account will know about it and the inherent risks and usual debates around GA safety and (ir)relevance will be front and center for weeks.

  1. Let’s hope it goes off without a hitch. Any mis adventure and the press will kill us……..maybe that is the point?

  2. Aviation is celebrated in many other locations, much of the time, in the US outside of DC. Maybe this venue for the organized display is the wrong choice. I’ll bet everything in your wallet the bubble-dwelling MSM will have a significant level of joy-sucking about the event in their reporting. Just expecting a trend to continue.

    • Judging by the comments on this blog, the aviation community seems perfectly capable of sucking the joy out of an aviation celebration without any help from the mainstream media.

  3. Not really sure what they were rehearsing. 4 planes, all high performance vs 60 of various speeds representing 100 years of GA history? Was it to make sure that the Secret Service can be adequately forewarned as to not shoot them down?

  4. Must be nice to be able to afford a Caravan as the president of an advocacy/lobby organization. Guess I picked the wrong career way back when.

    • Mark Baker made his money before joining AOPA:
      “Prior to his appointment at AOPA, Baker served in numerous senior executive roles, including chief operating officer at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, president and CEO of outdoor outfitter Gander Mountain Company, and chief merchandizing officer and executive vice president for The Home Depot. Most recently, he served as CEO of Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp., a leading retailer of home improvement and garden products.”

  5. Well according to Kirt our AOPA president sure made a lot of money in the past and still knows how to suck money out of a General Aviation organization like ours, Folks there’s serious something wrong with that and until the members finally realize we’ve been had it might be too late.

    • They’re doing it without my bucks after 40 years … but they’re STILL sending me emails nearly every day trying to lure me back.

  6. Has Baker done a good job of running AOPA? I can’t think of any mistake right off the bat.

    Has he led AOPA to be the leading legislative lobby for General Aviation in the swamp of Washington? Yes.

    I would rather pay an EFFECTIVE administrator a salary both parties could afford, than to try to get by “on the cheap” in one of the highest cost cities in the country! Look at freshmen Congresscritters as an example–some have been known to sleep in their offices at night!

    The old adages–“an employee is worth what they are willing to work for, and what the employer is willing to pay–there are TWO SIDES for every bargain.”

    The other example: “You pay PEANUTS, you get MONKEYS!” General Aviation is perpetually on trial for its LIFE in Washington–and when you are on trial for your life, most people would demand a CAPABLE attorney/administrator–NOT THE CHEAPEST!

  7. I D/C’d my AOPA member ship a decade or so ago after years of the annual membership drive that began with “USER FEES ARE COMING UNLESS YOU JOIN NOW”. It appears they have succeeded in that endeavor for now. Maybe it’s time to re-up. They still sending the annual $8.00 AOPA flight bag as a token of their appreciation for your dues ?

  8. Responding to jimhanson73, Just compare Jack Pelton’s resume with Mr. Bakers, their performances their salaries and how efficiently they run their respective organizations and each organizations accomplishments.
    AOPA’s bloated organization reminds me of a major defense contractor who I used to work for.
    I let my membership expire after we got no action from AOPA when the local mayor shut down our crosswind runway at KDET.

    • “EAA and AOPA”–“apples and oranges.”

      EAA (headed by Peyton) does a great job of “identifying with their membership”–mainly “fun flyers”–and that is to be applauded.

      When it comes to fighting with the FAA–countering ludicrous FAA proposals through Congressional actions–AOPA wins hands down. I know of no aviation group that is more successful than AOPA in helping to shape government aviation policy–and opposing ridiculous proposals–even their detractors acknowledge that.

      One has to be careful with analogies, but EAA can be seen as asking “Who wants candy” (sport aircraft and pilots) and AOPA is the caregiver that says “the advice to take daily doses of kaopectate “for your own good” is literally “OVERKILL”–here is a better alternative!” Guess which provider is the more popular–but having BOTH is the best solution!

      Most detractors concentrate on Baker’s salary. Fair enough. Obviously, his former firms thought he was worth the money as well. (Thus, the “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!” line). Also not acknowledged–it costs a LOT more money to live in the Washington D.C. hell-hole–(I wouldn’t do it for ANY price!) while Pelton gets to live a good life, doing what he likes to do.

      In the military, we used to call “second-guessers” or “Guardhouse Lawyers”–those who always opine about what SHOULD have been done, and being critical of those that are actually in the fight. That’s not LEADERSHIP–that is “Second-guessing!”

      • Don`t care about Bakers salary, what I will point out is AOPA`s only wanting to play with the big boys and not assist with the lower rank and file…….Had a problem in our local with a couple of cities telling folks they couldn`t have fuel in their aircraft while stored in the hangar for an extended period of time, also your aircraft must fly and not sit in the hanger for extended periods of time and my personnel favorite, you MUST purchase fuel from the FBO on the field….Presented the docs from a couple of cities trying to pull the same stunt, to AOPA…Their response….Deal with it…

  9. Reading through the comments I am a bit surprised. After reading literally hundreds of comments over the years about how the government is out to get GA, how they want to diminish GA, how they are taking away our rights, they try to block us out of airspace and limit services to us, they drown us in bureaucracy – I’m kid of struck by the notion that this a pretty cool idea. It tells me that they recognize the importance GA in this country, by switching off the SAMS and standing down the F-18’s in restricted airspace and allowing the spectacle (however small) of 60 airplanes of different types to fly overhead and allow the media exposure to take place. It sounds like we have “some” friends in D.C. Sometimes we have to learn to take “yes” for an answer.

  10. Another big show by the Alphabet groups, spend that money and time fighting for GA, in the halls of the politicos both state and federal….Not showing off. This stunt does nothing but put a burr under the bonnet of those who don`t understand or care about aviation, thus making it more difficult to justify its (GA) importance and economic value.

    • Everyone knows that everyone who own and fly their own ‘small’ airplanes are rich fatcats, don’t they?

      • you bet, take my social security check to the bank, than head straight to the airport to fly my T210 out for a $500 dollar peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

  11. Holy hatrack the naysayers, the prunes, the malcontents and the just plain pissants are hard at the wok on their keyboards pouting and whining. Goodbye to all of you malcontents.

  12. This is a GREAT thing, and I hope it gets beautiful weather.

    Why do it? Because people can’t understand what they don’t see. I assume someone will work out a way to broadcast a narration for those who are interested, and maybe some people who listen in will GET interested.

    For those who ask what we’ll do if there’s a crash, WTH?? Do you ask yourself that question before each flight — “Will it really screw things up if I crash on this flight?”

    Any why a dress rehearsal flight? I dunno – do you think any of those AOPA folks have GoPros, which they are using to video the entire route to share with every pilot who will be flying it?

    Bring on the planes!