Mike Ginter, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy; U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.); and the FAA’s Tom Leahy began the conference on February 25 with an update on general aviation. The group stated that GA operations have exceeded pre-pandemic numbers by 30 percent and that 60 percent of flight schools are reporting that business is better than before COVID-19. In addition, the presenters noted that the number of student, private, and commercial certificates have increased in the last four years and that the General Aviation Manufacturers Association is reporting an increase in helicopter and fixed-wing deliveries over the previous year.
The panel also highlighted the most pressing topic in GA—the switch to unleaded fuel by 2030. The switch to a lead-free fuel will not pose an issue for most low-compression, round-engine warbirds; however, further testing will need to be completed before the fuel is used in high-compression aircraft.
Throughout the weekend other presentations were given relating to airshow-specific insurance items, warbird maintenance, medical updates, and even a session on “why good pilots make bad decisions” by AOPA Air Safety Institute Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden.
The event concluded aboard the USS Lexington, where attendees enjoyed self-guided tours, cocktails, and dinner.