Saturday, October 26, 2013

AOPA Summit: Fort Worth, Texas

Zack is my hero.

When he learned that we were stranded at Addison Airport he immediately offered his help. Our luggage in his trunk, he took Kathy and I over to the Hilton Garden and waited for me to check availability. They were full. He and Kathy then started cell phone searches to find another suitable place to stay. The Holiday Inn Express promised us a room so he took us over there, again waiting to insure no problems with registration.THIS is a step beyond good customer service. Thanks to US Sport Aircraft for taking care of someone in need.

I called Hertz at 8:00am Thursday morning and was told they no longer had any cars available. What?!?!? But some were expected back in this morning. I asked the hotel to get me a cab, but after 20 minutes I was still waiting in the lobby. I called Patrick to discuss the work to be done on Sally, and when he heard of my situation he sent someone over immediately. Again, he made sure everything was taken care of properly before leaving to do his "real" job. Thanks

Robert, Kathy and Dave
Convention Halls
We had missed the Flight Training meeting that was held prior to the Summit because of the weather that delayed our start. Now we missed the opening keynote session because of the mix up with the rental car. Not off to a very good start, we arrived at the venue about 10:00am. After parking and registration we entered the exhibition hall to get a quick overview, then traveled upstairs to attend a training session or two. Then we went back down for a more detailed view of the exhibitions. I met my friend Robert and talked about my Dynon system. Kathy stopped by Clarity Aloft and got some help with how her headset fits. I went over to Lightspeed to inquire about new headset pads and we both enjoyed just looking at all of the interesting pilot supplies. We left a little early to go check in at the new hotel and visit Aerofest.

Dusty Crophopper
This required some significant driving. Aerofest was held at Meacham Field and our hotel was in the "Fossil Creek" area north of Fort Worth. GPS said 20 minutes but that doesn't take into account getting lost, road construction or heavy traffic. We made it work and got over to the airport in time to see Dusty, Fifi, and a lot of other interesting aircraft. Kathy enjoyed sitting in the new Sport Cruiser pointing out the differences and improvements they have made since we bought Sally. I did my best helping Sam by offering stories about my customer satisfaction to anyone who would listen. Exhausted, we headed back to the hotel to end Day 1.

After breakfast we jumped in the car and headed south back to the convention center. This time were able to attend the keynote address and both enjoyed it very much. While all of the speakers were good I think we were most impressed by Greg Coleman from Disney Animation Studios. I want to go and see the movie now. We attended more training sessions, did some more shopping, and even found some time to stroll outside in the beautiful Fort Worth Water Gardens.

Chow Down at Cow Town
Next on the agenda was "Chow Down at Cow Town". Some great Texas brisket with all of the fixins washed down with Shiner Bock started the evening entertainment while we listened to live music. Then we went next door to watch a real Rodeo. This was the first time Kathy and I had seen an event like this and it was truly amazing. AOPA did a truly wonderful job hosting this event, we both agreed that it was one of the highlights of the trip. Exhausted, we headed back to the hotel to end Day 2.

The last day of the Summit started at Aerofest with a pancake breakfast. Mark Baker spoke about his plans and had his key staff on stage to answer audience questions. It was very well attended and addressed all of the hot topic questions of the day. We think Mark will be a good change for AOPA. The last event was held back at the convention center for the Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteers. Mark also attended this event and after some brief remarks again opened the floor to questioning. Clearly he wants to hear what issues AOPA members think dominate the world of General Aviation. I enjoyed this session as well (and even got a free back pack!)

We ended the evening by driving back to Addison to attend a Sport Cruiser/PiperSport owners' dinner. The traffic to and from this event was unbelievably bad, but the gathering itself was really appreciated. It wasn't quite the gathering we had in Branson but still it was great to meet people and talk about airplanes. Exhausted, we headed back to the hotel to end Day 3.


  1. Great read so far! Sounds like a fun trip, I'm looking forward to the write up on your return home flight. I totally get the teamwork comment on pre-flight. Mary and I have it locked in, like a NASCAR pit stop. What was the outcome of the GPS issue?

    I'm not sure if you remember Grant and Leslie from the Wings Fly-B-Q but they were at the rodeo the same night.

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