CAMARILLO, Calif. – A crowd of about 5,000 pilots and visitors, along with nearly 400 airplanes, arrived at the Camarillo Airport on April 28 and 29 for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Fly-In event.
There were 68 exhibitors and two full days of activities. AOPA's Camarillo Fly-In, presented by California Aeronautical University, was the seventeenth AOPA regional fly-in four years, and total all-time attendance hit the 49,000 mark.
Ventura County Director of Airports, Todd McNamee said he expected the event to generate about $700,000 for the local economy in the form of hotel stays, restaurant visits, tours and other activities.
The schedule included a series of workshops featuring interactive, hands-on sessions with discussions and demonstrations dealing with owner-guided maintenance, mountain flying, ocean flying and ditching, an Instrument Flight Rules refresher course, and a “Pilot Plus One” program aimed at activities designed to appeal to non-flying spouses and partners.
Clear skies and ideal temperatures prevailed over the two days, with occasionally strong Santa Ana winds being the only weather glitch.
There were 58 exhibit airplanes and, because a wing of the Commemorative Air Force is based at Camarillo, a Grumman F6F Hellcat, a Mitchell B-25J, an Aero Vodochody L-29, and a very rare Mark XIV Supermarine Spitfire were also on display.
At the Pilot Town Hall, the fly-in’s closing event, AOPA President Mark Baker highlighted several of the association’s successes. Topping the list was the passage of BasicMed, an alternative pathway to conventional medical certification that allows pilots to self-assess their medical fitness to fly aircraft with maximum takeoff weights of less than 6,000 pounds, with up to six occupants, at speeds up to 250 knots, under IFR or VFR, and at altitudes up to 18,000 feet.
“This is the biggest thing to happen in general aviation ever,” said Baker of the rule, which will allow more lapsed pilots to return to flying. More than 1,000 pilots have completed BasicMed’s medical process and taken the online course.
The two County-owned airports (Camarillo and Oxnard) generate about $244 million annually for the local economy and account for about 1,400 jobs. Between the two, there are about a quarter-million takeoffs and landings every year.
(With reporting by Thomas A. Horne, AOPA)