Originally Published: October 5, 2015 11:56 p.m.
PRESCOTT - The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has announced that it will hold one of four 2016 regional "fly-in" events at the Prescott Municipal Airport, Ernest A. Love Field, on Oct. 1.
AOPA has been doing these fly-ins since 2014, and it said, has had more than 27,000 attendees, and more than 4,000 aircraft, participating in a dozen events in 10 states.
According to the AOPA, there's no admission fee and the fly-in offers pilots and the public several kinds of entertainment and opportunities to learn:
Free on-field camping;
Traditional pancake breakfast cooked and served by local pilots and volunteers;
Barnstormers Party on Friday night with food and entertainment;
Lunch with a variety of offerings available from gourmet food trucks and local restaurants;
Dozens of aircraft displays and exhibitors;
New seminars, speakers, and a Pilot Town Hall with AOPA President Mark Baker;
Free AOPA Rusty Pilots seminar.
"We've been overwhelmed by the success of the AOPA Fly-Ins, so we're excited to bring them to brand new locations, with new seminars, social events, and activities for 2016," Baker said.
The Prescott fly-in brings with it a substantial potential economic impact.
"We're anticipating more than 2,000 people, we think that each person will spend about $500 a day on average-hotel accommodations and meals-and also, that they should be here an average of, say, two or three days," airport manager John Cox said, for a total of perhaps $3 million in revenue for the area.
The manager of the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, which is in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, said the impact of this year's fly-in, held at his airport Aug. 23, was a bit muted by the weather.
"We had some extraordinarily strong winds that day," Glenn Burke said, "so it kept down the number of planes coming in.
"But what we found was, a lot of the people drove in, and then stayed overnight," he said.
That fly-in saw attendance of about 3,000; AOPA had told them to expect between 2,000 and 4,000. About 300 airplanes arrived, which was half of what the airport had planned on.
Still, "it went very well," he said. "I think we had a lot of visitors who wouldn't normally come into our area" that visited the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, and most came from locations within five hours' driving time.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Chancellor Dr. Frank Ayers said the school helped secure the fly-in for Prescott.
"Katie Pribyl is a 2001 graduate of the school here, and is the senior vice-president for communications for AOPA," he said. "and she had been working with the university and Dave Roy (of Guidance Aviation) and John Cox, and we've been working on this for months ... to put a proposal together."
Ayers said the fly-in would be combined with the annual private ERAU airshow for 2016, and would bring in aerobatic performers like ERAU alumni Melissa Pemberton.
He said the fly-in could help turn the private airshow into a public event going forward.
Fly-ins for 2016 will also be held at Beaufort, North Carolina; Bremerton, Washington; and Battle Creek, Michigan.
Follow Scott Orr on Twitter @AZNewsguy. Call him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2038 or 928-642-7705.
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