Tour a U.S. Air Force base, visit an aircraft factory that must surely rate as a shrine to general aviation, and keep an unforgettable weekend going for a few extra days by flying yourself on a quick hop to an offshore paradise.
That’s the short description of the fabulous fly-outs and excursion waiting for you at the final AOPA Regional Fly-In of 2017 presented by Peter O. Knight Airport in Tampa, Florida, Oct. 27 and 28.
“Pilots and their families or friends really can make a weekend adventure out of an AOPA Fly-In,” said Chris Eads, AOPA director of outreach. “We offer something for everyone.”
Excursion to MacDill Air Force Base
For 38 fortunate fly-in goers on hand on for the first day of the fly-in Oct. 27, the excitement of a tour of an active Air Force base is on tap at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, home to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the 310th Airlift Squadron, flying the C-37, and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, flying the KC-135, augmented by the Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing and 63rd Air Refueling Squadron, also flying KC-135s. MacDill also headquarters two of the U.S. military's joint warfighting combatant commands: United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), and Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
The base’s primary mission is combat communications: deployment, operations, and maintenance of strategic emergency communications anywhere in the world in both peacetime and combat environments.
For the outing to the base, the visitors—U.S. citizens age 13 and older, with valid ID—will meet at 10:30 a.m. at the AOPA tickets and information tent and board a charter bus. On arrival at MacDill, the group will receive a mission briefing, followed by lunch in the cafeteria (cash only).
MacDill is an active base, so what you’ll see of the facility depends on its activity at the time of the visit—but expect to tour areas such as the KC-135 static display, Military Working Dogs, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Survival, and/or Air Crew Equipment.
Piper Aircraft factory fly-out
For pilots who like to get signed up early for their extracurricular fly-in fun, the reward for registering by the Oct. 6 deadline is to claim a spot on the list to fly across the state of Florida to Vero Beach Regional Airport, and tie down right at the Piper Aircraft factory for a fun, educational tour of Piper’s only manufacturing location—the original home of the Piper Cherokee.
In an effort to show as many visitors (age 10 and up, with valid ID) as possible the process of transforming a roll of sheet metal into an airplane, Piper scheduled two tour times for AOPA Fly-In guests: 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Each two-hour tour accommodates up to 30 participants—and everyone is invited to lunch at 12:30 p.m., courtesy of Piper.
It would be hard to imagine a better way to help Piper celebrate its eightieth anniversary than to see how William T. Piper’s dream became a reality, and to appreciate how his vision lives on—while getting a bit of exercise by taking the tour that requires from 60 to 90 minutes of walking around the plant. (Wear comfortable shoes with a closed toe and heels less than 1.5 inches high. Sneakers will do nicely.)
The Bahamas fly-out
What could be a more perfect culmination of a fantastic Florida fly-in—and a way to keep the weekend going for three more days—than to climb into your aircraft and head out over the blue water to the Bahamas, where the weather is as clear as the water almost every day, and perfect flying conditions abound in the fair-weather-cumulus-cloud-dotted sky.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is offering AOPA Fly-In attendees a three-day, fun-in-the-sun flying adventure to the Bahamas. Participants will depart as a group Oct. 29 from Peter O. Knight Airport at 8 a.m., or from their home airport.
Fly direct to Grand Bahama Island and land by 11 a.m., for two nights at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort. Transportation, meals, and a special VIP meet and greet will be arranged.
For even more sun, fun, and flying, a “fly-out from the fly-out” to nearby Cat Island can be arranged for you. (Check the box on the registration page to indicate your interest, and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism will contact you to arrange your own custom fly-out.)
Assistance with customs and paperwork will be available if needed.
Registration and more information about the fly-outs and the MacDill Air Force Base excursion from the AOPA Regional Fly-In in Tampa are available here.