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AOPA prepares for national GA flyover in D.C.

The Washington Monument, lower right, passes below a Cessna 208 Caravan piloted by AOPA President Mark Baker. Photo by David Tulis.In celebration of general aviation and 85 years of the AOPA, a special flyover event will be held in Washington D.C. on May 11. As the big day approaches, the AOPA shared that the recent practice flyover was a success. The AOPA National Celebration of General Aviation is taking place on May 11 and will have planes flying over the National Mall, an area where GA aircraft have not been allowed to fly over since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Four aircraft took off from the Frederick Municipal Airport on March 24 and flew over the National Mall on a test run for the upcoming spring celebration. AOPA President Mark Baker took off at about 11:46 a.m. in a Cessna Caravan, followed by Pete Muntean in his American Champion Super Decathlon, Adam Williams in his Rockwell Commander and AOPA VP of Airports and State Advocacy Mike Ginter in his Beechcraft Bonanza A36. "We have spent many hours planning for the event, but there is nothing like flying the actual route and testing all factors," Ginter, who will serve as air boss in the upcoming event, said. "We learned a lot from this warmup flight and are even more excited for the May event—it will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime celebration for those flying and all of the aviation enthusiasts around the world tuning in to our live feed." The four planes flew to D.C., heading over the Potomac River and down Independence Avenue next to the National Mall. The flyover route the pilots followed, which many will follow during the May celebration, passes through Washington's prohibited area P-56. GA pilots have not been allowed to fly in this sensitive airspace since 9/11, giving the participants in the flyover celebration a rare opportunity to see a part of D.C. few GA pilots get a chance to view. "One of my favorite things about GA is always discovering something new," Baker shared after landing. "This flight gave me a view of Washington that is rarely seen, and I can't wait for May and the real thing! Everyone associated with GA should tune in on May 11, since we are all part of this amazing story." Baker will be leading the flyover in his Beechcraft Staggerwing 17, followed by a group of aircraft to represent the history of GA. With more than 60 aircraft covering 20 different chapters, the flyover will share the story of GA in the U.S., from the Golden Age of GA following WWII to the GA trainer era, backcountry flying, vertical flight, seaplanes, corporate and business aviation, experimental homebuilds, technically advanced aircraft and airshow performers. The event will highlight the many technological advancements in the history of GA that have vastly improved its safety record. The flyover is being coordinated with 15 interagency partners, including the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration, the Secret Service and the Capitol Police, along with the support of Congress. The event will be broadcast live on the AOPA's YouTube channel with commentary from the AOPA Live This Week host, Tom Haines, and journalist Miles O'Brien. This celebratory flyover will also coincide with the AOPA's 85th anniversary in May. "The history of GA and our own AOPA story are so intertwined. We feel these celebrations are one and the same," Baker said.
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