6:26 PM

He said, she said over
AOPA ’07 Expo move

We’ve got a good old fashioned catfight going in Atlantic City, where AOPA has pulled the plug on their 2007 Expo at Atlantic City International Airport in favor of Hartford, Conn.

AOPA President Phil Boyer released statements saying this:

“The officials with the underused Atlantic City International Airport simply don't want to be bothered with a bunch of general-aviation aircraft, regardless of the income they would bring to the airport and Atlantic City. “The airport handles only 38 airline operations a day, but Expo would put such a burden on their facilities that they wanted to charge us an exorbitant amount to pay for normal aircraft operations.”
The fee that AOPA calls “exorbitant” is reported to be $250,000. But Atlantic City officials have said the $250,000 was only a "preliminary estimate of the cost" and was later reduced to about $150,000. AOPA says Expo will attract between 9,000 and 11,000 people who will dump between $8 million and $10 million into the local economy.

AOPA last held Expo in the area in 1995 at Atlantic City's Bader Field, which is scheduled to close next year – a closure AOPA opposes. Atlantic City's people contend that AOPA's decision against holding its show there next year is partly related to Bader Field's closing. They've also said the problem lies with AOPA's planning of Expo, which they say should have started about six months ago, but that AOPA didn't contact agencies in the area about the show until “the 11th hour.”

I find it hard to believe that AOPA’s staff – some of the best and brightest in all of aviation – were late to the gate on planning Expo, when other Expos seem to go off year after year without a hitch. And if the move was in fact retaliation for closing Bader, too freakin’ bad for Jersey. Now maybe other cities and states that want to close their airports will think twice before writing off all those annoying little airplanes and the millions of dollars that their owner/pilots spend:
It's like this: Does anyone actually believe AOPA would ever spend a DIME in Chicago after the rape and pillage of Meigs Field? Not a chance.
In 2004, when AOPA told Atlantic City's mayor – on the record – that closing Bader was an act of taboo that would not be easily forgotten by the association's nearly 450,000 member pilots, maybe Hizzhonor didn't take those flyboys from Frederick seriously. Now, as millions and millions of easy dollars goes up to Hartford, they will see that AOPA really was the baddest elephant in the room after all when it comes to taking care of GA in America.

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