Up to 400 small private aircraft and 2,000 people are expected to descend on the Colorado Springs Airport on Sept. 26 for a fly-in event, making the Springs one of only a handful of U.S. cities to host one this year.
The 370,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association selected the local airport from among 40 applicants to host a daylong series of meetings, training sessions and an expo. Also chosen were airports in Northern California, Minneapolis and central Tennessee, along with one near the association’s Maryland headquarters.
A team headed by Steve Ducoff, the group’s airport support network volunteer for the Springs, began preparing nine months ago to bid on the event.
“This is a huge win,” Ducoff said Thursday. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to show off the Colorado Springs Airport to such a large group of general-aviation pilots and AOPA members. We expect to draw people from North Dakota to Texas who may have never visited Colorado Springs before.”
The association last year replaced its annual conference with regional meetings, which combined drew more than 2,800 aircraft and 16,000 people to six airports in California, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington.
The group said in its announcement Thursday that it selected the five hosts based on location, runway and ramp capacity, facilities, prevailing weather and other factors.
“We had a great time with the Fly-ins last year and they put us in touch with thousands of members we’d never met before, so we can’t wait to do it again,” AOPA President Mark Baker said in the announcement. “With the new locations, we’ll be able to meet even more members, support more general aviation airports and continue our mission to build the GA community all across the country.”
Dan Gallagher, director of the Colorado Springs Airport, said the event – which will be held at the airport’s west-side general aviation area – will help highlight “the great potential for general aviation at this airport.”
“It is a very important and robust segment of the aviation industry, and we welcome the opportunity to reacquaint the industry with our airport,” Gallagher said.
Ducoff said the event will be hosted by all three fixed-based operators at the airport – businesses that lease hangars, sell fuel and offer aircraft maintenance services: Colorado jetCenter, Cutter Aviation Colorado Springs LLC and J.H.W. Hangar Complex.
The agenda for the event, which is free and open to the public, includes a social on Sept. 25. The Sept. 26 lineup includes breakfast, flight safety seminars, a town hall on aviation issues, a learn-to-fly center, aircraft displays and an expo featuring dozens of booths by aviation product and service providers.