More than 500 aircraft expected at Missoula fly-in; volunteers are needed

Mike Woods with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and other organization team members met at Missoula International Airport last year to begin planning this week’s fly-in. (Missoula Current file photo)

The nation’s largest aviation organization and its squadron of private pilots will converge on Missoula this week in what’s shaping up to be a record-setting fly in.

With more than 500 aircraft and several thousands visitors expected over the weekend, airport officials are looking for volunteers to assist arriving aircraft and help out with other entertainment operations.

“The event will showcase Missoula and the entire state of Montana for aircraft owners,” said airport director Cris Jensen. “For anyone interested in aviation, volunteering at the Missoula AOPA Fly-In is a great way to see hundreds of aircraft and meet hundreds of pilots.”

Member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association – the world’s largest aviation association – met with Missoula International Airport last December to begin planning the event. The airport has pursued the fly-in for the past four years.

As of last week, more than 500 aircraft had registered to arrive in Missoula. The AOPA record of roughly 700 aircraft was logged in Bremerton, Washington.

“We’re tracking the numbers daily at this point,” said Dan Newman, the airport’s business development manager. “They’re comparing us to Bremerton right now. We’re about 10 percent ahead of them, but a lot of it is weather dependent.”

The event, which includes everything from a barnstorming party to aircraft demonstrations, also serves as an economic boon for the communities that apply – and receive – the event. Recent events in other communities have seen attendance top 6,000 people.

Chis Eads, a member of the AOPA team, placed the economic impact at around $680,000, as attendees set out to dine, lodge and shop in the area.

“Missoula volunteers have the best seat in the house at the Fly-In,” said Eads. “But volunteering isn’t all about hard work – it’s also about meeting other volunteers, seeing the fly-in from the ‘insider’s’ perspective, and making new friends.”

Volunteers can find out more by following this link.