Modaero 2016 Preview

This week I had the opportunity to fly out to Lone Star Executive Airport (KCXO), the home of Modaero 2016 Next Generation Aviation Festival.  Brian Columbus and Jason Stewart were on site working hard to prepare for the event and gracefully extended an invite for me to stop by one evening.  Pilot Partner had signed up to be a sponsor and an exhibitor at the event, but to be honest, I knew very little of what to expect.  This research trip was to help us prepare the Pilot Partner Booth,  but I also recently purchased a 1980 Bonanza A36TC and was looking for a good excuse to go fly.

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Modaero Next Gen Aviation Festival

First Impression

When I first landed Jason Stewart (also a founder of Share Aviation) met me and my friend by the airplane with a warm welcome, and then took us upstairs to their onsite office.  The office showed clear signs of two guys who have been busy working and planning this event.  Brian was on the phone wrapping up business.

Brian and Jason started briefing us on the big picture on how the Modaero event was going to go and the challenges they have overcome to make this event happen.  Then the guys drove us around the expo grounds where the event will actually take place and the campsite will be located.  They have Plan A for the camping as long as it isn’t super wet, but if a lot of rain is received, then they have Plan B ready to go.

I was very impressed by the fact that Brian and Jason had so much planning and work done.  It is clear that they have put their heart and soul into this project.  The other thing that was impressive is their strategy for handling the event.  They realize that this is the 1st year and there are many unknowns.   They appear to have the perfect balance to planning things to the T that need to be planned, and where they need to just allow things to be fluid.  There is nothing worse than over-planning things that you can’t control.  The important things are all lined up, and the other things will just happen with their guidance.

Come for the Week or For a Day

The most common thing I’ve heard from fellow pilots is that it is tough to get the time off of work.  Although the event will be exciting every day, come out Friday night via car or airplane and stay for the weekend.  We will all be flying home Sunday afternoon.   Also consider camping with us at Camp AvGeek Radio Friday & Saturday Night.  Single Day Tickets are available.

The Airport

Brian and Jason searched many places before deciding on the right location.  I don’t even want to guess how many hours, days, weeks or years they spent finding this location.  Ultimately they chose Lone Star Executive Airport in Conroe, TX for several reasons:

  • They wanted the show to be in the South Central United States.  North has Oshkosh, East has Sun-n-Fun, and the South Central didn’t have a show.  They wanted it to be accessible for as many pilots as possible across the country.
  • Lone Star Exec has a conference center immediately adjacent to and within walking distance to the airport.
  • Going back 20 years in the Farmer’s Almanac, the weather for this area is predictably good.
  • The city and the airport were excited to work with the event to make it happen

The key to this event is the airport working with the Modaero team to make this happen.  At first the airport was cautious with the proposals Brian and Jason made, and who can blame them?  They didn’t know who these guys were.   But as they present more and more details and worked out more and more problems, the airport quickly changed from cautious to fully supportive.  Brian believes the airport’s trust and support is the greatest factor for the shows success.

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The Layout

Below is a rough map of the Modaero event.  I recreated this from memory and it might have a few things off.  but this should give everyone a better idea of what to expect.

ModAeroMap

  1. Career Fest @ Convention Center
  2. Main Expo Venue with Static Aircraft
  3. The Drone Experience
  4. RV Camping with Electrical Hook ups
  5. Tent & Airplane Camping with Showers
  6. Kid Zone
  7. Airplane Parking
  8. Aircraft Taxiway to Venue

1) Career Fest @ the Convention Center

On Wednesday 3/16/2016 the career fest will be held indoors at the convention center.

2) Main Expo Venue & Static Displays

Thursday though Saturday the Main Expo will be held outside in an area divided into 4 quadrants.    This is where you will find Pilot Partner, Share Aviation, AOPA and many others.   There will be aircraft on static display in this area and many vendors set up for you to visit.  There will be speakers through out the day with a wide range of backgrounds.

You will also find the Music Stage here as well.

3) The Drone Experience

An exciting addition to the Modaero Festive is the Drone Experience.    In addition to a vendors and booths dedicated to drones, there is a 5,000 seat indoor arena setup to have Drone Races using FPV goggles.  If you have never seen this before, it is exciting.  Because the venue is indoors it poses no safety concerns with air traffic near the airport.  (If a GA aircraft is trying to fly inside the arena, we have bigger problems).

4) RV Camping with Electrical Hook ups

There are limited spots available for RV Camping with Hookups.  Be sure to reserve them early.

5) Tent & Airplane Camping with Showers

This will be the Home of Camp AvGeeks Rodeo and other people coming in to camp for the event.  This will be a combination of tent camping and some limited room for airplane camping.

Camp AvGeeks Rodeo

We will be a group of like minded AvGeeks to Camp together.  This is inspired by Camp Bacon @ Oshkosh and Camp RadioActive @ Sun-N-Fun, but it will take on a life of its own at Modaero.  If you are interested in joining us at Camp AvGeeks Rodeo, email me at support@pilotpartner.net or find the facebook group and RSVP there.

6) Kid Zone

There will be a Kid Zone set up to give the kids a place to play and be entertained when looking at airplanes becomes too much.  This is going to be a great family event to bring you kids to!

7) Airplane Parking

There will be plenty of space to park your airplane on the field and walk to the event.  If you are going to camp with your airplane, contact the folks at Modareo for a reservation.

8) Aircraft Taxiway to Venue

The most interesting challenge that Brian and Jason overcame is how to get general aviation aircraft from the airport to the event.  By closing a road and doing some creative work that includes widening some gates and removing a few signs, we will be taxiing aircraft down a road, under a stop light and to the expo grounds.

I am looking forward to the video we will create of us taxiing our Bonanza down a street!

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