Aviation organizations, especially the Association of California Airports (ACA) and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), for years have discussed the possibility of holding an aviation day at the State Capitol. After the ACA Fall Conference in September, an informal organizing committee was formed to seriously plan for such an event.
After a number of meetings, details began to coalesce. And on April 24, 2013, the first annual California Aviation Awareness Day at the Capitol became a reality. This is the first time that a broad spectrum of aviation organizations have come together to host an event to inform California legislators, legislative staffs, and the general public about the importance of aviation to the welfare of the California economy and to raise the level of awareness of the benefits of aviation to all Californians.
The event began with a by-invitation reception on the evening of April 23 at a local restaurant. The reception was well attended by event organizers, sponsors, legislators, and legislative staff members.
The next day the main event was conducted on the north lawn of the Capitol in a large tent enclosing displays and educational materials. Approximately 20 aviation organizations participated and interacted with visitors. There were many interesting exhibits to attract attention.
The event kicked off with a welcome and remarks by Senator Jean Fuller, a strong supported of aviation. In the afternoon after the lawn event, many of the organizers visited their legislators’ offices, and small teams distributed educational materials to the offices of all 120 legislators.
We feel that the event was a complete success. It was estimated that the event had at least 500 visitors. It was covered on local television news.
The Association of California Airports was the official sponsor. I representated AOPA on the organizing committee and also served as the event spokesperson. Other collaborating organizations, in no particular order of mention, included: Alliance for Aviation Across America; California Airports Council; California Department of Transportation; California Pilots Association; National Business Aviation Association; Seaplane Pilots Association; Southwest Chapter American Association of Airport Executives; California State University Los Angeles AAAE Chapter; Sacramento City College Department of Aviation; McClellan Air Museum; Experimental Aircraft Association; Aeroplex/Aerolease Group; Reach Air Medical; Napa Valley Balloons; Northern California Business Aviation Association; Paramount Citrus; Mead and Hunt; Parsons Brinkerhoff; Tartaglia Engineering: Southern California Aviation Association; National Association of Flight Instructors; C&S Engineering; Truckee Tahoe Airport District; and others.
We have already begun planning for second annual California Aviation Day at the Capitol, tentatively scheduled for April 24, 2014.