All Systems Go for GA National Mall Flyover in May

Photo above – AOPA President Mark Baker pilots his Cessna Caravan over the National Mall during the practice run for the May 11 AOPA National Celebration of GA Flyover. Photo courtesy of David Tulis/AOPA.

Whether you call it a practice or a dress rehearsal, AOPA calls it a complete success.

Four aircraft took off from Frederick Municipal Airport on March 24, and headed for the skies over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on a test run for the AOPA National Celebration of General Aviation Flyover, to be held on May 11.

“We have spent many hours planning for the event, but there is nothing like flying the actual route and testing all factors,” said AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Mike Ginter, who will also serve as the air boss for the upcoming celebration. “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.”

AOPA President Mark Baker lifted off from Frederick at 11:46 a.m. in his Cessna Caravan, followed by Pete Muntean in his American Champion Super Decathlon, Adam Williams in his Rockwell Commander, and Ginter in his Beechcraft Bonanza A36. The flight of four headed toward D.C., turning over the Potomac River and down Independence Avenue next to the National Mall, not far from the U.S. Capitol. The flyover route that the four pilots followed—and that many more will follow in May—passes through Washington’s most sensitive airspace, prohibited area P-56, where no GA aircraft has been allowed to fly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“One of my favorite things about GA is always discovering something new,” Baker said 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 lead the GA flyover in his Beechcraft Staggerwing 17, followed by a wide array of aircraft representing GA’s storied history. The more than 60 aircraft, comprising 20 different “chapters,” will tell the story of GA in the United States, from those in the Golden Age and representing GA after World War II to the GA trainer era, vertical flight, backcountry flying, seaplanes, corporate and business aviation, technically advanced aircraft, experimental homebuilts, airshow performers, and other examples of GA aircraft that support public service missions. The event will also showcase technological advancements that have greatly advanced GA’s safety record.

The flyover is being closely coordinated with 15 interagency partners including the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration, the Secret Service, and the Capitol Police, and has the support of Congress. It will be broadcast live on AOPA’s YouTube channel with commentary from longtime AOPA Live This Week host Tom Haines and noted journalist Miles O’Brien.

The celebration will also coincide with AOPA’s eighty-fifth 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 added.