AFA Orlando: Cleaning out the notebook

A look at the exhibition floor at last week's AFA (Aaron Mehta)

Last week, your intrepid reporter trucked down to Orlando, Fla. to attend the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium. The event itself was good fun, and provided some great coverage, such as:

But to add some color, I thought I’d throw a few pictures up here. Above is a panorama with my iPhone of the show floor.

Keeping in mind that the phone’s camera is hardly professional grade and that panoramas are tricky to get right, I think it gives you a sense of just how empty the show floor felt this year.

According to an AFA spokeswoman, there were roughly the same number of attendees, but around 40 percent fewer exhibitors. A large chunk of those attending were in uniform, which mean they spent most of the day taking in speeches rather than roaming the hall. Hence, empty-looking exhibition room.

We have a small collection of photos after the jump. Come and join us.


Lockheed's F-35 simulator (Aaron Mehta)

Owning one of the larger booths was Lockheed Martin, who brought along an F-35 JSF simulator. Guests who tested it out got a pretty realistic experience to what test pilots will be doing this week on the jet; less than two hours after the show closed, the entire JSF fleet was grounded. (And you can follow our ongoing coverage of that at


Boeing provided another large booth.

As usual, Boeing provided another large booth. To be clear, both the Lockheed and Boeing pictures were taken very early on Friday, before most attendees had arrived.

General Atomics brought a model UAV (Aaron Mehta)

General Atomics had both a booth and this 1/6 size Predator model outside the exhibit hall entrance.

The floorplan. (Aaron Mehta)

Here’s the floor plan for the show. Notice the large Air Force Association booth near the entrance (lower right on the map)? According to the map printed in the official event magazine, that space was reserved for “Team T-100” – until Alenia North America pulled out, reportedly just days before the event. (A company spokesman didn’t get back to Defense News before we published this information in Monday’s paper.) That said, Alenia’s presence wasn’t totally absent…

Lunch. (Aaron Mehta)

… since sister company AgustaWestland provided Thursday’s lunch for all participants (turkey and ham sandwiches, for those interested.)

Cadets in attendance. (Aaron Mehta)

Although Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Secretary Michael Donley talked doom-and-gloom over sequestration, both men insisted the Air Force would ride out the damage because of the strength of the men and women in the service. At the end of the event, a group of what looked like high-school cadets arrived and took a tour of the facilities, picking up convention swag like backpacks and frisbees and generally having a good time. It was a nice positive note to end the conference on, and one the exhibitors seemed to genuinely enjoy taking part in.

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta