I recently joined nearly ten thousand pilots and aviation enthusiasts gathered in Long Beach, California, for the 2010 AOPA Aviation Summit. I was there to sit
on a panel of distinguished veterans of the airline industry who had come to
share expertise on how to get a good flying job.
I was also there to hear from the stars and leaders of aviation, and to see the latest and greatest aircraft, helicopters, engines, avionics and pilot supplies. And that was just at the Long Beach Convention Center. There were more than a hundred more aircraft of
various sorts set up on static display at the Long Beach Airport, which was close-by,
free and open to the public.
The Aviation Summit is a one of a kind experience that I hope to never miss. As a long time airline pilot with a wealth of airborne memories I occasionally feel as if I have seen it all in aviation. It takes just a few minutes of immersion in the sights and sounds of the Aviation Summit for me remember why I loved aviation in the first place.
Just this year, as an example, I heard National Aviation Hall of Fame Inductee Patty
Wagstaff share her experiences flying her aerobatic
airplane at air shows around the world, and how she got there in the first
place. A few minutes later I met and spoke with a pilot of the most exotic
aircraft ever built, the
SR-71 Blackbird, and coaxed a story out him about his experiences as a Sled
Driver as they were known. It was sensory overload for any aviator or fan of
ATP Flight School was at the Summit of course speaking with people interested in learning how to fly as well as experienced aviators looking for advanced flight training. ATP was joined in their booth by officials from Mountain State University to announce
the partnership between MSU and ATP, which allows aspiring commercial pilots to
get necessary certificates and ratings while pursuing their Bachelors Degree in
Airline Transport Professional Pilot Operations. Hundreds passed through the
ATP display learning about the ATP/MSU
On the last day of the summit I climbed the stage to address a packed room of experienced aviators interested in advice on how to get a job flying for an airline after a long downturn in the industry. The presentation was well received by the group that
had come to hear us speak, and was followed by a lengthy question and answer
period in which pilots had a chance to learn specific strategies about their
individual set of circumstances.
All good things must come to an end they say, and such was the case with this year’s version of the Aviation Summit a few hours after my presentation was over. Like most people who attended this year’s Aviation Summit my mind was swimming in all I had seen and heard, and I left already looking forward to Aviation Summit 2011.