Join NAAA at the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo in Savannah for a Centennial Celebration!

By Mark Kimmel, NAAA President, and Andrew Moore, NAAA Chief Executive Officer

On behalf of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, we would like to invite all AgAir Update readers to the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo in historic Savannah. This year’s show takes on extra meaning because it coincides with the aerial application industry’s 100th anniversary!

In addition to our great speakers and programming, world-class NAAA Trade Show and enjoyable atmosphere, we are celebrating 100 years of aiding farmers in producing a safe, affordable and abundant supply of food, fiber and bioenergy, as well as protecting forestry and controlling health-threatening pests across our great nation.

This is the sixth time since 2010 the Hostess City of the South has hosted the world’s largest agricultural aviation expo. The reason is simple: They treat us right, and our attendees love it here. The citizens of Savannah bent over backward to make NAAA attendees and exhibitors feel safe and welcome us last year at our 2020 convention, and you can expect no less at this year’s show. We can’t wait to enjoy the city’s great restaurants, bars and amazing Southern hospitality.

We have sessions for new pilots, experienced pilots, spouses and support staff. If you are looking to grow your business, find a job or sell a product or service in the aerial application industry, the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo is the place for you! Make the most of the enriching education sessions, valuable networking opportunities and a world-class trade show that will showcase striking state-of-the-art and antique ag aircraft—including the Snow S-2A, Ag-Cat Serial No. 1 and a Stearman.

You can expect to experience the same robust, informative and interactive atmosphere as always at the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo, but with additional safeguards established for the health and wellness of our attendees, exhibitors and staff.

The festivities begin at the Kickoff Breakfast Monday morning, where you’ll hear from 19-time Emmy winner John Stossel, hailed by The Dallas Morning News as “the most consistently thought-provoking TV reporter of our time.” Stossel began his career as a consumer reporter calling for government regulation. But when he saw that regulations could cause new problems, he started reporting on the benefits that free markets create. After 28 years on ABC’s 20/20, Stossel joined Fox Business Network to host his own show. In 2017, he gave that up to start Stossel TV, which makes internet videos that educate young people about the benefits of limited government. This event is expected to sell out. Pre-register ahead of time to avoid missing out!

Several educational sessions are on tap throughout the week, including the Aerial Application Technology Research Session and programming focused on FAA matters and low-level obstacles, insurance, precision agriculture, crop protection products, engine performance and maintenance, helicopters, airframe and company sessions. Some states offer CEUs for education sessions. Visit AgAviation.org/ceu for a full list of CEU opportunities at the expo.

NAAA’s General Session on Tuesday, Dec. 7, will feature history and content centered around the last 100 years of the aerial application industry. We’ll debut the new documentary “Aerial Applicators’ Growing Role: 100 Years of Agricultural Aviation,” followed by a panel looking back at the industry’s origins and advancements over the past 100 years. Steve Powell of Solum Consulting will moderate the session. Invited panelists include Dennie Stokes, of Mid-Continent Aircraft Corp. and Air Aids Inc./Stokes Flying Service in Earle, Arkansas; AgAir Update’s very own Bill Lavender; Jim Hirsch, Air Tractor’s president; Terry Humphrey of Thrush, and Grant Lane of Lane Aviation—all ag aviation veterans and leaders.

For the final portion of the General Session, we’ll hear from experts who will forecast what’s on the horizon between now and the industry’s bicentennial in 2021. Speakers include Air Tractor’s Jim Hirsch, Mark McDonald, president and CEO of Thrush Aircraft, and Jay Vroom, chief information officer for his family business, Vroom•Leigh•Agriculture LLC, and a strategic advisor for D.C. Legislative and Regulatory Services. Vroom retired from CropLife America in 2018 after 30 years as the organization’s president and CEO. Also speaking is Ofir Schlam, founder and president of Taranis, the cutting-edge company developing groundbreaking aerial imaging and see-and-spray technology.

This year’s career-development programs are frontloaded to give new and low-time ag pilots increased opportunities to interact with experienced operators and pilots after the sessions. The Compaass Rose Session is being offered Sunday, Dec. 5, and NAAREF’s “Ask the Expert” Speed Mentoring Session will take place Monday, Dec. 6. Compaass Rose is an information-sharing session geared toward low-time and prospective ag pilots. It is led by the PAASS presenters, our roving safety instructors. Speed Mentoring is a fast-paced orientation session for new and prospective ag pilots where experienced industry experts meet with small groups of attendees in short mentoring rounds to answer questions in a more personal setting. The experts may represent operators, pilots and ag insurance representatives.

The Athena presenters and PAASS presenters are coming together for the NAAREF Relationship Drift Session, which will look at how personal relationships affect pilot decision-making and safety. Men and women should attend this session together, including couples and office crew. Relationship Drift is similar in format to the popular Compaass Rose program, but instead of facilitating better relations between inexperienced pilots and more experienced operators, the new session is designed to foster ties between operators/pilots and their spouses or significant others and office crew.

The NAAREF Safety Session on Thursday, Dec. 9, will feature a brand-new video on how to “turn smart,” educating aerial applicators on how to make safe, coordinated turns while conducting aerial applications. The session will be valuable to both inexperienced and experienced pilots.

For specific solutions for your business, look no further than the NAAA Trade Show Dec. 7–8. The world’s largest agricultural aviation trade show will feature nearly 140 exhibitors, showcasing crop protection products, parts and supplies, aircraft and engine manufacturers, maintenance, insurance services, GPS units and more. View Air Tractor and Thrush airplanes, helicopters and vintage ag aircraft, including Ag-Cat #1, a Cub, Stearman and Grumman Ag-Cat.

Don’t miss the fun of the Live Auction, which also happens to be our biggest fundraiser. Along with a new PT6A-34AG engine from Pratt & Whitney Canada, a two-seat, open-cockpit Grumman Ag-Cat G-164 A plane and many other great items are up for bid. Visit AgAviation.org/auctions for a list of all the auction items. The action gets underway Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. on the trade show floor.

Throughout the week, there will be no shortage of opportunities to network and make new acquaintances. From Monday’s Welcome Reception to Thursday’s Farewell Reception, you’ll be able to attend a different reception nearly every night. Finally, we encourage you to make plans to attend the Excellence in Ag Aviation Banquet Dec. 9, where we will honor nine distinguished awardees for their impressive contributions to the industry.

New Non-Member Registration Fees

Please be aware that registration fees for non-members to attend the Ag Aviation Expo have increased. NAAA leadership established a policy that raises the non-member attendee rates for the Ag Aviation Expo. The non-member registration fee is $1,005 for pre-registration by Nov. 5 and $1,080 for regular registration beginning Nov. 6. To avoid the higher attendee fee, NAAA recommends NAAA membership to attend the show and save money. If you plan to attend this year’s Ag Aviation Expo, please join NAAA in advance to obtain the cheaper convention registration rate (membership runs Jan. 1–Dec. 31; membership is not pro-rated). Register for the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo using the registration form found in the AAU Navigator or go to AgAviation.org/convention. Register by Nov. 5 for the prices listed on the registration form.

Finally, if you plan to come in early, we encourage you to swing by Perry, Georgia, on Dec. 3 for AgAir Update’s Open House and Hangar Party. We appreciate Bill and Graham’s willingness to roll out the welcome mat for NAAA and our guests. Their pre-convention soirée epitomizes the Southern hospitality that will be on display all week long in Savannah. If you make it to Perry, don’t forget to gobble up a couple of handfuls of boiled peanuts while you’re there.

That’s just a small taste of what you will find at the 2021 Ag Aviation Expo. There is much more information within these pages and on NAAA’s website at AgAviation.org/convention. Please join us for an epic centennial celebration at what promises to be an unforgettable week!

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