January 22, 2014 - The 10th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo drew to a close on Sunday afternoon, January 19, after one of the most successful runs in the event's 10-year history. The event saw four aircraft debuts, including the RANS Aircraft's S-20 Raven; Tecnam Aircraft's new Sea Sky on floats (the only such model in the U.S.); the Zigolo Ultralight Motorglider from AeroMarine LSA; and the Super Petrel LS from Florida Light Sport Aviation.
Sebring Regional Airport Director Mike Willingham called the event the smoothest running ever and praised Expo Director Jana Filip and her husband Gary, who manage the event. "Operationally, everything ran near flawlessly, and that's thanks to Jana and Gary's efforts," Willingham said.
Willingham also lauded the work of the 240 Expo volunteers who oversee the myriad details necessary to keep an event like the Expo running. He added that gate traffic showed a healthy increase over attendance in 2013.
Jana Filip also described the event as extremely smooth. "We created a new communication dispatch system for our volunteers to help them accomplish their duties, and that worked very well. Everyone pitched in and made the event happen, and we thank them for their efforts."
Willingham and Filip both praised the work of Air Boss, Inc., noting positive feedback from pilots. Wi-Fi supplier, Rapid Systems also received credit for setting up its "rock-solid" service throughout the Expo.
Several vendors reported brisk sales and high interest. Ken Scott, of Van's Aircraft, remarked, "It was the best show ever for Van's Aircraft. We brought two aircraft to the show and I'm estimating we gave at least 50 demo flights. That's the beauty of this event; they make it easy to get our airplanes out to give demo flights and that helps sell airplanes."
Bill Canino, president of SportairUSA, called the event a successful one for his company. "We talked with many serious prospects and have a long list of folks who gave us their information, indicating a serious interest in buying an aircraft," he said. "Our list from this event is longer than we gathered at other major air shows last year." Canino also had kind words for the helpfulness of volunteers. "They bend over backwards to help you with anything you need."
Willingham acknowledged the work of the airport's office staff. "We have a small team of five full-time staffers at the airport, and obviously the Expo offers some challenges to them. I want to thank Marsha Lee, Christine McCann, Vicky Stewart, and Beverly Glarner for pitching in to help the Expo be successful." Willingham also hinted at a big announcement that Sebring Regional Airport will be making soon about a new major tenant.
Filip offered her thanks to the many partners and sponsors who contribute to the Expo's success, including aviation partners Flight Design USA, Zenith Aircraft, and Aviators Hot Line. She also recognized the numerous local sponsors who support the event.
Looking ahead to 2015, the theme was announced as 'The Next Ten for the Next Gen" calling out Expo's next 10-year run and continuing work with aircraft manufacturers and other aviation companies to get the word out that recreational flying is attainable.
"We want to help the aviation community grow and help more people understand that earning a pilot certificate and owning an aircraft are attainable, affordable goals," she said.