The weather in Dayton on October 3rd. was not good, with a strong cold front passing through mid-day, rain, thunderstorms in the area, strong gusty winds and low ceilings, other than that it was a perfect day for the fly-in reception organized by the COPA North East Region. Oh, yes I forgot that Chicago center was still suffering from the computer outage and didn't have flight plan information, so those flying from Duluth and Chicago had extra fun . In spite of the weather a good number of COPA pilots arrived for the event at Dayton Wright Brothers Airport. The longest distance traveled was by Fred Cohen, who benefited from tail winds and made it non-stop from Denver in his turbo. A number made it out of Chicago, including Jim and Nancy Knollenberg. The VFR pilots and many coming from the east just couldn't get here from there and cancelled, however more than half of the over 100 members that planned to come arrived. The event was kicked off with a special four Cirrus plane formation fly-over and the attendees applauded as the formation led by former COPA SE Governor Rich Hayes flew by in the the diamond then reformed into echelon for their second pass. Very heavy Hors D'oeuvres and a well stocked bar were available when the attendee's arrived and the Commander Aero Hangar was arranged with a G5, also Cirrus number 5000 and a Wright B flyer, with tables and a stage. Gil Williamson represented COPA, and kicked off the program pointing out that aviation history was made by two brothers from Dayton and another page of history was created by two brothers from Duluth. Amanda Wright Lane, great grand niece of the Wright Brothers, talked about the history made by the Wright B flyer and the conversion of the first airplane factory ever into a tourist attraction that is underway in Dayton. She then introduced Alan Klapmeier. Alan was the Alan of old, evangelizing general aviation and giving the sermon that many of us have heard before, reminding us that we need to introduce people to aviation and preach the positives of flying. It was a good reminder and well received and appreciated. Gil, then recognized the sponsors of the evening, including the City of Dayton, Jaime Steele of Steel Aviation, Commander Aero and the Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as MacAir who organized the formation fly-over. Gil, then introduced Dale Klapmeier, who talked about the appreciation he had for Cirrus customers who made the Cirrus success possible and his humility and the honor of being inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. Gil, then again congratulated the recipients on behalf of COPA, and thanked the brothers for creating the aircraft that has brought us so much joy.
It was a great evening for the Klapmeier brothers who were accompanied by their family as well as Pat Waddick, Cirrus President and a number of key Cirrus people. The crowd socialized and got a close look at the new Cirrus as well as the Wright B Flyer. Jonathan Sweatman, Cirrus Regional Sales Rep. who was there with his wife Diane from Atlanta, seized the opportunity to do a little G5 selling, why not. The next evening the creators of our planes will take there place with the other famous figures in aviation in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In spite of the weather it was a great day for COPA.
All of COPA owes you a huge debt of gratitude for your efforts to help honor Alan and Dale on all our behalf for all they have done for general aviation. Why, if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have a COPA! What a great evening, indeed!
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