The COPA Board has strategized about our Annual General Meeting and Convention on and off for several years. In late 2007 it was decided to form a committee to review the convention format and come up with recommendations for the Board to consider. The committee Chair was Doug Ronan, Director for Ontario, and members where Brian Chappell, Director for the Maritimes, Earl Kickley, Director for Saskatchewan, and myself as an ex-officio member.
There were several reasons the Board wanted our conventions reviewed. COPA Conventions are not events that can be planned and executed remotely. It’s not as simple as booking hotels, booking speakers and advertising the event.
Because our job is to promote personal aviation our conventions have always been centred around airports wherever possible to encourage fly-in attendance, which encompasses more complex planning for aviation facilities, ground transportation, significant numbers of volunteers, etc.
Without dedicated headquarters staff we have always relied on COPA Flights to not only provide the volunteers but to do the bulk of the planning and organizing.
Over the last 10 years we’ve had some very successful conventions (600+ attendees) and we’ve had some disasters (less than 100 attendees). Some of the low attendance events have been weathered out, which is the biggest risk when organizing any flying event. Some have been poorly attended due to competing events. In either case they can lead to some big financial losses.
Putting together a convention is a tough job and the Flights that do it burn out after one. There have been very few repeat locations for our conventions.
We certainly appreciate the COPA Flights that undertake this huge job but we also understand that they do not want to do it again. The number of responses we receive for hosting a convention has dropped off in recent years and we are simply running out of COPA Flights willing or able to organize a big event.
Prior to the committee undertaking its review we had gathered some member input from the 2006 convention from our general membership survey of 2007. The results indicated that most members wanted an event that moved around the country and was held at an airport. Most members also wanted to see the convention fee under $75.
So after receiving the report from the convention review committee the Board decided on a new format for conventions beginning in 2010. The first important step was to rename the event to the "COPA Annual Fly-in and AGM". This squarely places the emphasis on a fly-in event with activities on-airport.
To bring the event within the scope of many more COPA Flights the COPA portion will be one day only (Saturday) with a minimum requirement to provide breakfast and lunch, facilities for the Annual General Meeting, and some sort of activities appropriate to the host airport.
These can be anything from just kicking tires to seminars, exhibits, or hangar/airport tours. The evening dinner can be anything from a plated dinner to an outdoor barbeque, depending on the facilities and desire of the hosting flight.
A meet and greet or evening meal on the Friday before will be entirely up to the hosting Flight. The same goes for breakfast on Sunday morning for those who stay over. These will be local Flight events although other clubs may be invited to get involved and share in the profits.
Any profits made from the Saturday fly-in will be shared equally between COPA and the hosting Flight or club.
Annual rotation of the COPA Annual fly-in and AGM will simply be between Eastern and Western Canada, divided at the ON/MB border, with the first one (2010) being in Eastern Canada. Any COPA Flight in the appropriate half of the country can submit a request to host the annual event.
Even flying clubs that are not Flights, but have several COPA members will be considered. We prefer Flights to submit a request to do so two years in advance to allow plenty of time for selection and preparation.
We hope that this new, scaled down format will be more appealing to local organizers and permit the annual event to move around to many new and different parts of the country.
If your club would like to check this out further the new guidelines for hosting the COPA Annual Fly-in and AGM are posted on the COPA web site at: http://www.copanational.org/Convention.cfm.
Meanwhile make sure you get to the 2009 Convention in Calgary. And keep you prop spinning.