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Flying unleaded fuel forward

National Celebration of GA Flyover participant runs G100UL

On May 11, a 1966 Beechcraft Baron C55 with avgas in the right tank and the first unleaded alternative to avgas approved by the FAA in the left wing will join around 60 aircraft in an aerial parade over Washington, D.C.

This Beechcraft Baron running both avgas and G100UL will build a few more hours over the National Mall on May 11, with further analysis to follow. Photo by David Tulis.

Dozens of general aviation aircraft began assembling more than a week before the event at Frederick Municipal Airport, home of AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland. The plan includes timing aircraft departures to the second, and the airport will be closed during flyover operations. Pilots operating in the area can expect several notams in the days leading up to the National Celebration of General Aviation Flyover.

A highlight of AOPA's eighty-fifth anniversary year, the D.C. Flyover will highlight aircraft and pilots who serve their communities daily, in ways that the public does not always see.

To gain authorization to fly dozens of aircraft past the Washington Monument and the National Mall, through the heart of the most strictly secured airspace in the country (including the prohibited area that extends over the U.S. Capitol), volunteer pilots agreed to submit themselves and their aircraft to rigorous screening by a number of federal agencies, including the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Secret Service.

The airport in Frederick will be filled to (aircraft) capacity by May 10, with various ramp areas cordoned off to control access for security. The best seat in the house May 11 will be anywhere with internet access: The AOPA livestream coverage will begin on YouTube at 11:45 a.m. Eastern time (click the link now to set a notification), hosted by veteran aviation journalist Miles O'Brien and former AOPA editor in chief Tom Haines. AOPA encourages members to throw watch parties and invite nonpilot friends and family to also see a show that will highlight GA's vital roles serving the public.

Given the extensive coordination required between various federal agencies, airlines, and the flyover pilots (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport will be closed for an hour during the flyover) all flying precise, timed routes, the timing of the event itself cannot budge. If weather, particularly low ceilings or visibility, forces organizers to scrub the event May 11 (a decision that can be made as late as 10:30 a.m.), the same plan will be executed on May 12, at the same time, with the first aircraft expected to cross the Potomac River and fly down Independence Avenue at 12:06 p.m., give or take a few seconds.

The flyover aircraft have been organized to tell the story of GA in chapters, led by a Beechcraft Staggerwing representing GA's Golden Age, followed by around 60 others, including trainers that created generations of pilots; firefighting and medevac aircraft that serve communities in the present day; and designs that advanced aviation technology, such as the Beechcraft Starship.

Advancing technology in the present day, AOPA's dual-fuel Beechcraft Baron will add to its 165 hours running on avgas in one wing tank and General Aviation Modifications Inc. G100UL unleaded fuel in the other as part of the hourlong parade over the capital. AOPA plans to conduct the next detailed engine analysis (including evaluation of borescope images by Savvy Aviation) soon after those hours over Washington are flown. Analysis and periodic checks to date have revealed no issues impacting engine performance or reliability.

As other unleaded fuels gain FAA approval, AOPA plans to conduct similar exercises that build confidence in as many unleaded fuel options as possible.

Jim Moore
Jim Moore
Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Advocacy, Events, AOPA Events

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