General Aviation Flyover Of D.C. Set For May 11


About 60 general aviation aircraft will close Reagan National Airport for an hour and go where none have gone for decades May 11 (May 12 weather day) when the National Celebration of General Aviation DC Flyover takes place over the seat of government. The aircraft, chosen to represent the roles and eras of GA since 1939, will commemorate the first proclamation of Aviation Day by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the creation of AOPA 85 years ago. “We want to tell the story of GA,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. Anyone in D.C. will get a great view of the flight from the mall area, and for those at home it will be streamed live on AOPA’s YouTube channel with AOPA Live anchor Tom Haines and veteran aviation journalist Miles O’Brien providing commentary starting at 11:45 EDT.

The aircraft, in 22 different flights, will follow the Potomac River to downtown Washington where they will fly over the National Mall before heading down Independence Ave. They’ll go through airspace that has been closed to anything but military and emergency aircraft since 9/11 and even through the ultra-secure P56 airspace, which has been sealed off for decades. The planes range from antiques to the very newest aircraft, the Piper M700 Fury, which was only certified in March. Recreational, training, amphibious, homebuilt along with military and law enforcement aircraft will be represented. The Titan Aerobatic Team’s formation of four Second World War-era T-6 Texans will provide the finale with a smoke show but without aerobatics.

As might be imagined, the preparation for such an event is enormous. Mike Ginter, AOPA’s VP of State Advocacy, started by getting approval from civic, state and federal agencies up to and including the Secret Service. Of course, all pilots, passengers and planes had to be vetted and they will all be inspected in Frederick before they launch. And as symbolically exciting as it might be, Ginter’s goal anything but. “We want this to be a boring successful event from a government perspective,” he said.

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.


  1. Is THIS what membership in AOPA provides? Sigh! How is my general aviation life gonna be better as a result of someone seeing these airplanes fly around Washington? AOPA wants this to be “a boring successful event from a government perspective.” HUH? What the heck does THAT mean? This is nothing but a stunt IMHO.

    • Awww, c’mon Larry. Allow me to step in on this one. “Boring” means is it will intentionally contain no sensational elements.
      I really don’t think the intent is to please YOUR expectation that everything should please YOU, but it is more in line with what we see and feel when we turn out for a parade (without the Sponge Bob or Mickey Mouse balloons). For the rest of US (and U.S.), especially the pilots and organizations, our general aviation lives are enhanced by being a part of or watching something that has never been done before, with active support and approval from the government.
      It is about visibility and a show of support for OUR passion.

    • I AM one of the pilots–and feel honored to be one! I’ll be flying a King Air 200, with a Lear 35 and a Cessna CJ3. This is my 63rd year of flying–I fly airplanes, single and multi seaplanes, helicopters, gliders, and balloons. I’ve participated in a number of airshows, but this is by far the most difficult (but BEST PLANNED) I’ve experienced.

      The “Parade” analogy is apt–I feel proud to be asked to participate, and honored that they think I’m “good enough” to do it in one of the most complex airspaces in the world. I’ve spent 63 years looking UP at airplanes–this time, I hope that it will inspire others to actually ACT on their desires and learn to fly.

      I have the Wright Brothers “50 years without an accident or violation” award. On January 31 of next year–9 months from now, I will have been flying more than half the time of powered flight.–and be one of the last to be able to make that claim.

      • I have the Wright award AND am one of the very few who also have the Taylor (mechanic) award, as well. What’s that got to do with this event? I’m glad for YOU but … I think the amount of work required to pull this off and the prospect for something negative happening (not on purpose) makes this a risky event with no payback … I won’t change my position. I love aviation as much as any of us here … but this is just gonna make ground pounders that much more apoplectic.
        At my home airport which is supported by the small town that hosts it, there are locals who think of pilots and aircraft owners as rich playboys and object to our airport despite it paying for itself. That’s what’ll happen here for more folks than ya’ll likely realize.

        • Larry, not everything is about or for you. And when you say “I won’t change my position” you are really telling a lot about yourself.

    • If I had been chosen to be one of those pilots, of course I’ll be delighted. But the others comments are referring the “profits” for GA that emerges from that flying. So, in that perspective, they aren’t, at all, idiotics. Not understanding that is, yes, idiotic.

    • Good publicity? In DC? I could bet that, unfortunately , a lot of people are gathering against the noise and the “lead poisoning the air” provoked but that fly in that is reserved to “the wealthy persons, the pilots”. It’s sad, but it’s true.

  2. As a pilot for a Midwest state government, I have flown into DCA half a dozen times in the last few years.
    Besides the pilot training and special clearance, we are required to have armed security onboard.
    Every time was so cool yet nerve-racking. The controllers knew how honored we felt to be able to fly the River Visual in a KA350 where you are half mile from the Washington monument.. Anyone interested, look at the fix names on the Nummy Three Arrival after the fix DRUZZ. Respect…..

  3. Big fun I’m sure for those directly involved but count me in the list that believes this will do near zero for GA in the short or long term.

    God forbid, if someone loses an engine in the wrong place then the opportunity for negative publicity far exceeds the positives.

  4. I would wager that AOPA will take 10,000 pictures of this event and print whole volumes about all the great and wonderful things that resulted from same. THAT is the purpose of this event.