- February 23, 2009, 4:39 AM
The Helicopter Association International’s annual Heli-Expo kicked off this morning amid a wave of negative signs all pointing to a prolonged economic downturn. Against such a backdrop, it’s a little disorienting to step foot inside the Heli-Expo exhibition hall at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California and find it packed with exhibitors and visitors. HAI said the number of exhibitors is up nearly 12 percent compared with last year’s record show in Houston, from 523 to 584, a figure that includes 81 new exhibitors. More than 60 helicopters flew in for the three-day event, representing a mix of product demonstrators, new aircraft and used helicopters for sale. The real barometer of the show’s success, of course, will be the number of visitors Heli-Expo’09 ultimately attracts. Last year’s attendance had already reached a record high of 16,829 by the second day of the show. This year’s preliminary numbers are expected on Tuesday.