We spent the day at the Northwest Aviation Conference, happening this weekend at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, east of Tacoma, and south of Seattle. The conference features vendor booths and presentations on a wide variety of aviation topics, and has a different feel than most of the fly-in air shows you will find across the country. Since it is not located at an airport, and has no airshow to pull crowds in and out of the trade show facility, there is a more relaxed feel, and both vendors and attendees seemed to be willing to engage in longer, more comprehensive conversations.
Heavy on local business, but featuring national vendors such as Dynon and Garmin, the show connects potential customers and suppliers of aviation parts, training—and quite a few airlines looking for pilots. If you're on the hunt for a flying job, this was the place to be, with what seemed like a dozen different companies recruiting heavily for cockpit positions.
In the experimental world, we talked with avionics vendors large and small, a couple of engine companies, several aviation-related government organizations, and a great group of Puyallup teens showing off their RV-12 project.
The annual show runs through this weekend, and we found it a refreshingly different way to start the aviation trade-show circuit!