By Rachel Hansen
Just when the short winter days and grounded planes become too much to bear for local aviators at the end of February, there’s a sign of happier airborne days ahead. For many, the annual Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show in Puyallup, Wash., marks the end of winter in the Northwest.
Twenty-two years strong and the event gets bigger and better each year. What began as a small collection of booths hosted during a day of safety seminars has grown and flourished into a much anticipated gathering that fills two vast exhibit halls and boasts a packed schedule of educational and entertaining aviation seminars. Each year, over 12,000 aviation enthusiasts and their families flock through the Gold Gate to be educated, inspired, and ultimately, rekindle their dream to fly.
The Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show, which will be held February 26 and 27 in 2005, is hosted by the Washington Aviation Association, a 501(c) nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of aviation businesses in the Northwest. The event provides a venue for aviation businesses and customers to network and showcase technological advances in the industry.
The changing economic climate has encouraged the event organizers to adopt an innovative approach to capturing the most benefit for the entire industry. Over the last two decades, the event has established a solid reputation and following of vendors, speakers and attendees. In 2005, there is a dedicated effort to approach all the aviation organizations and businesses and encourage them to be involved in the presentation of the event. The WAA position has been to put out the word: let’s work together and we’ll make it happen!
The efforts have proven effective, by calling upon the entire aviation community to be invited. The participation list reads like a cryptic code: AEA, AOPA, CPA, EAA, FAA, SPA, WAA, WIA, WPA, WSDOT, to name just a few. This translates into a core group of dedicated organizations that have the same goal in mind: promoting aviation and insuring its future!
The energy doesn’t stop there. Not to be overlooked are local and national aviation businesses that have contributed their valuable marketing dollars to support the show and promote their products.
Garmin will once again be sponsoring the event at the Gold level with Wayne McGhee addressing attendees Saturday morning on the latest technology. Hillsboro Aviation will again be placing a Robinson helicopter inside the Pavilion Hall and Lancair International will have the latest Legacy on display in the exhibit area.
In keeping with the 2005 theme of “Aviation Education – Share the dream,” this year, The Museum of Flight will also be a key player in the event. Using educator workshops, mainstream presentations and by cooperating with other aviation education programs, the museum will draw upon their experience and understanding of aviation teaching to present the education component of the event.
The goal in 2005 is to attract new interest to inject energy into businesses, museums, aviation colleges and flight training programs that will trickle down to aircraft sales and maintenance and promote economic growth in the industry.
The conference schedule has expanded for 2005. The pilot safety seminars will cover many facets of the industry including: helicopters, seaplanes, ultralights, mountain and IFR flying, weather training and navigation software, as well as presentations from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
Keynote speakers include Phil Boyer of AOPA, addressing the current state of general aviation; Ric Peri, vice president, Aircraft Electronics Association, instructing on owner performed maintenance; Bob Warner, senior vice president of the EAA, on preparing for the future of aviation; and Kathy Hirtz, who will share her inspiring experiences as an aerobatic pilot.
In addition, plan for presentations from the FAA, NASA, WPA, Women in Aviation, The Museum of Flight and Angel Flight, as well as topics including aviation insurance and airship surveillance.
If you have a moment between taking in all these great speakers, be sure to visit all the amazing exhibits and displays. The Pavilion Hall and Expo Hall will both accommodate over 200 booths, a 40 percent increase from 2004. In addition, the courtyard will be brimming with static aviation displays.
On February 26, in appreciation for continued member and attendee support, the NWAC & TS will be arranging an informal evening of food, refreshment and entertainment following the close of the show. The WAA will present awards to members of the aviation community who have made a considerable contribution to aviation. Radio personality and aviation enthusiasts Bob Rivers, of KZOK (102.5), will be hosting the event. Awards nominations are welcome. If you know someone who has made a considerable contribution to aviation, email the WAA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call the WAA at (866) 922-7469 for reservations.
The Northwest Aviation Conference is made possible with the support and guidance of the aviation community. Special thanks are extended to the 2005 major sponsors: Federal Aviation Administration, Washington State Department of Transportation-Aviation Division, AOPA, Garmin, Hillsboro Aviation, Lancair, Pacific Northwest Aviation & Business Journal, Flying Magazine and General Aviation News.
The 22nd Annual Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show will be held on February 26 & 27 at the North Gate of the Western Washington Fairgrounds, Puyallup. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5.00/person for over 16 years of age. Parking is free in the Gold Lot. Fly-in attendees can land at Pierce County Airport, where there are additional functions and free shuttles to the event.
For directions, schedules and more information, visit [http://www.washington-aviation.org/] or call toll free 866-922-7469.