Daher and the TBM Owners and Pilots Association (TBMOPA) announced a record attendance at its latest annual gathering, with over 100 TBMs – including 20 brand-new TBM 900s, as well as the predecessor TBM 850s and TBM 700s – arriving at Charleston Executive Airport (KJZI) in the U.S. state of South Carolina.
The 2015 TBMOPA Convention was held October 7-11 in Charleston, a city famous for its southern atmosphere and its historic landmarks, such as Fort Sumter (where the first shots of the U.S. Civil War were fired) and the decommissioned U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Yorktown, which is a museum ship. South Carolina also boasts a large and fast-growing aerospace industry, including a Boeing final assembly and delivery facility for the 787 Dreamliner, and the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center – both located in the North Charleston area.
TBMOPA’s meeting of its worldwide membership included three days of dynamic learning sessions customized for the TBM aircraft family, featuring presentations by industry leaders and Daher as the aircraft manufacturer, as well as TBM system vendors such as Pratt & Whitney Canada.
While the program always includes presentations specific to the TBM very fast turboprop product line, there always are topics that cover more general areas – such as airmanship and safety. This year topics included ADS-B, training, a Pratt & Whitney engine update and a safety review, among many others.
Attracting almost a quarter of the entire North American TBM fleet, the TBMOPA annual convention remains the largest fly-in convention dedicated to a single-engine turbine aircraft or small private jet – registering an increase in attendance of four percent from last year.
“Year after year, the TBM gathering continues to improve in quality as well as numbers of attendees, and we are proud to bring our support to this high-level flying community,” commented Nicolas Chabbert, Senior Vice President of the Daher Airplane Business Unit.
“This 12th TBMOPA Convention maintained the event’s ascension under the direction of Chairman Frank McKee, with its organization remarkably managed by Bill Alberts and Andrew Knott.”
McKee noted the 2015 convention enabled the TBM “family” at large to take part in much appreciated safety seminars, especially in the field of high-altitude training, while other sessions were devoted to operational techniques.
“Once again, our annual event offered an excellent way for owners to learn and socialize with each other, to meet with vendors, and talk with personnel from Daher,” McKee added. “The social events encouraged further discussions about flying and offered the means to develop friendships. My thanks also go to the vendors who participated, providing support and financial contributions for the TBMOPA’s charitable foundation.”
Among the 2015 gathering’s highlights was the presence of two French Army TBM 700 pilots who flew one of the service’s aircraft from their Rennes, France base – marking the 20th anniversary of this cornerstone TBM version’s service entry in their unit. In addition, these pilots, Capt. Dupont and Captain Michiels, performed an aerial demonstration with their TBM 700 as an introduction to the TBMOPA’s gala dinner, held on the deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown.
Featured speakers at this year’s event were retired Col. Mark Tillman (who related his experiences as the former Commander of Air Force One, the U.S. presidential jetliner); NASA Astronaut Storey Musgrave and Dr. David Strahle (discussing preflight weather planning and the Next-Generation Radar/NEXRAD network). Joining the guest speakers was a well-known orator for many TBMOPA members – famed ferry-pilot Margrit Waltz, who has circled the world in TBMs.
Sessions on the important topic of high-altitude hypoxia awareness training were organized by Airdocs in conjunction with Western Michigan College of Aviation, focusing on state-of-the-art aviation hypoxia awareness training.
As with the association’s previous annual conventions, participation in the technical sessions qualified members for savings on insurance premiums that are exclusive to TBMOPA.
Pilot companions were offered activities at the South Carolina event as well, including a “pinch hitter” flight training program designed for non-pilot companions, and a visit to Boone Hall plantation – a preserved historic mansion of the Old South’s golden age.
The TBMOPA Owners has fixed the date of next year’s convention, which is slated for Phoenix, Arizona on September 21-25, 2015.