When the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association holds its annual convention, a significant number of the 10,000 or so attendees don't worry about airfare, lines at security, or sitting in the middle seat. That's because they fly their own planes to the meeting.

For this year's meeting at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, some 2,000 attendees are expected to arrive via their own aircraft, says Scott Phelps, president, Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau. To accommodate one of the largest association meetings to hit Hartford since the convention center opened in 2005, the bureau secured runway space at Bradley International Airport in nearby Windsor Locks as well as Brainard Field, which is just a mile away from the center in Hartford.

“Having an airport so close to the center is very important to us,” says Chris Dancy, media relations director at Frederick, Md.-based AOPA. Not only is it necessary to have an airfield close by to accommodate the fly-ins, but it's also critical because AOPA needs space to showcase the hottest new aircraft in the industry. The ability to display the planes so close to the convention center is a major draw, says Dancy.