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picture for article: Supporting local aviation events is more impactful than you think

Supporting local aviation events is more impactful than you think

TUE FEB 6 2024
Written by Carol Cali

It’s the start of the much-anticipated 2024 air show season with aviation fanatics and enthusiasts marking off the days until their favorite one begins. Some aviation events have grown over the years with massive numbers of ticket holders fixated skyward watching award-winning aerial performers and military demonstration teams. Combining that with an environment of exhibitors, forums, and workshops makes it a lot to take in even for the seasoned attendee.


Don’t get me wrong. These larger format events are invigorating and even I get excited and yell “GO USA” when I see the likes of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds or the U.S. Navy Blue Angels ripping through the skies with jets blazing.


What brings me the most enjoyment is going to the smaller, hometown aviation events. Maybe it’s just the slower pace. This Saturday, February 10th, I plan on attending Planes, Trains and Automobiles in Plant City, Florida. In its 12th year, this hometown event gives families an affordable day together, discovering the wonders of transportation by introducing them to not only aircraft and aviation opportunities at their local airport but a wide variety of fun educational activities to ignite the imagination of local youth.


Here are 3 reasons why supporting hometown aviation events like Planes, Trains and Automobiles is more impactful than you think.


Families looking at train displays

Families looking at intricate train displays


It directly benefits the local community. Best known for the nation’s most scrumptious strawberries, Plant City’s motto is to “preserve the past and embrace the future.” It's basic math… with successful events comes more community investment. Aviation is a growing industrial sector and to highlight the infrastructure within the community attracts businesses to the area which in turn creates high-paying jobs.


Which brings us to #2. It benefits what is typically a smaller airport in so many ways. Part of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Plant City Airport (PCM) is the baby brother of Tampa International Airport (TPA). Located in a county experiencing tremendous growth, PCM is both positioned and challenged to generate direct and indirect revenue thereby making itself invaluable to the county. There are numerous general aviation airports nationwide struggling to survive and to be able to create positive resident sentiment by giving back to the taxpayer base may come in handy for any airport in future years. Events like Planes, Trains and Automobiles highlight the importance of the economic contribution the airport is making to the community it serves.


Young boy with headset and Stearman

Young boy getting prepared for his first flight in Stearman


Most importantly, these hometown affordable aviation events are inspiring the next generation of much-needed aviation and aerospace talent. The economy is challenging for many families and these smaller local aviation events fit within their budgets. Some events include an opportunity for children to experience their first general aviation flight through the EAA Young Eagle program which is logistically impossible at larger events. Planes, Trains and Automobiles already has 130 children signed up! There are untold numbers of aviators today who attribute their defining moment to pursue an aviation dream to this successful program.


So how can you help to ensure these affordable hometown events remain an impactful component of the aviation industry?


Volunteer. Hosting events is hard work. Aviators have tremendous knowledge and sharing it with a young family is so rewarding. Commit to participating in a program like EAA Young Eagles as they are always looking for willing pilots with aircraft to take a child on their first flight!


SUN n FUN Spirit of Lakeland

SUN 'n FUN's Spirit of Lakeland which was custom built for physically challenged pilots will be on display


Showcase your plane. Instead of flying just for a $100 hamburger, fly with a purpose to a local aviation event. In the case of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, they don’t charge an entry fee to showcase your plane. Who knows, you might even fly home with a trophy! They are expecting aircraft including three Stearman, a Beech 18, a Pilatus PC-12, and a couple of Rutan Pushers. Every event is different so check websites like SocialFlight when you’re looking for a fun destination.


But at the very least, buy a ticket. Tell your friends to buy a ticket. Most of these events are fundraisers which are supporting initiatives like a scholarship for the next generation of aviators or the restoration of an aircraft by teenagers. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is announcing a scholarship program at this year’s event. It’s nice to know my $10 ticket will contribute to providing an opportunity to a local young person to pursue a dream I am already enjoying.


One last plug for Planes, Trains and Automobiles – they have 75 cars registered for the car show too! The weather this Saturday in Plant City, Florida is expected to be spectacular - sunny and warm in the upper-70s!


Fly in or drive in but make your impact by supporting a local aviation event in your area!


FMI: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, head over to the Tampa Bay Aviation Association website


Originally published on

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