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Phenomenal Turnout

Arlington Fly-In sees 14% attendance jump

July 14, 2009 — Organizers at the 41st annual Arlington Fly-In held last weekend report a tremendously successful event, with increases in both attendees and airplanes. The third-largest fly-in in the country, held July 9-12 at Arlington Municipal Airport in Washington State, saw a 14 percent gain in attendance, along with aircraft totals running well ahead of last year.

“What can I say, it was great - a phenomenal turnout this year,” said Barb Tolbert, executive director for the fly-in. “We are still verifying the number of aircraft – at times the registrations even overloaded our system - but it looks to be well ahead of last year.”

From Kid’s Day on Opening Day Thursday, on through the weekend (which included rain on the final day), “It was a very successful fly-in,” Tolbert confirmed.

A new Antique Mall was overflowing with pristine, vintage aircraft, with Addison Pemberton’s Boeing 40C serving as the area’s centerpiece. Another popular new area was the Winner’s Circle, where past aircraft award winners were invited back to Arlington and rewarded with a special parking area.

About the only airplane segment not sharing in the largesse were those coming across the border from Canada, a decrease that appears to have been caused by new U.S. border crossing regulations and the eAPIS system. Statistics from Arlington’s temporary customs facility on the field bore that out, as the number of aircraft was off about 50 percent from the previous year.  Tolbert said there were plenty of Canadian attendees as usual, but many chose to drive, not fly, across the border.

“Customs officials were very helpful and cooperative, but it certainly appears that the new border crossing regulations in the United States and the eAPIS system had a detrimental effect on aircraft arrivals from north of the border,” she said. “The people I spoke with who did fly down said that it was not as difficult as some were making it out to be, but pilots seemed to deal with the large changes in the procedures by not dealing with them.”
EAA’s Ron Wagner, manager of field operations, reported excellent attendance at the EAA forums he conducted as well as the EAA exhibit tent.
“Friday and Saturday were especially outstanding,” he said. “The weather cooperated perfectly, and the people really came out. It was a pleasure to talk with the many EAA members who came by the EAA tent to discuss their organization, their aviation experiences, and the good time they were having at the fly-in.

“Even though it’s the third largest fly-in, Arlington has managed to retain the friendly, down-home atmosphere that EAA members love so much.”
Wagner’s forums, on sport pilot/light-sport aircraft and affordable flying, were “remarkably well attended,” even when the rains came on Sunday.

“They may have come into the forum tent just to get out of the rain, but they stayed and asked some very good questions,” Wagner said.

The 2010 fly-in dates are July 7-11, and Tolbert said people are already inquiring about the 42nd annual event. “We opened volunteer registration on Monday for people already wanting to volunteer next year,” she said. “We’ve also had several inquiries about advanced camping registration, which we do not begin until November.” She said that about half of all camper registrations occurred in advance this year.

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