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Sebring: Where the Aviation Year Gets Started

By Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson

Right after Christmas, many aviators start dreaming about Sebring. The show has become a must-go for anyone interested in light-sport aircraft (LSA) as well as for those who want to learn more about the lower-cost end of manufactured aircraft. Drawing more than 10,000 visitors in recent years, Sebring exclusively features LSA, showing this newest aircraft segment retains powerful appeal. It isn’t easy to create a successful new air show. Yet even during a recession, Sebring has continued to develop. Read more
 
Organizers and vendors hope you can attend the 7th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring, Florida, or as most simplify it, the “Sebring LSA Expo,” to be held January 20 to 23. Sebring has become the place to see what might be coming for a new season. According to aviation writer and LSA buff James Lawrence, Sebring Expo Chairman Bob Wood said late last year, “We have a waiting list for inside exhibit spaces and have very few outside spaces remaining for the January show.”

What to Examine?
Among more than 100 LSA models of every description, we always see some new entries. While surprises are part of the Sebring experience, here are a few new birds you can examine carefully at Sebring 2011.

The Phoenix LSA motorglider may be a niche aircraft for soaring enthusiasts but with standard short and long wings plus exceptional smoothness in fabrication, here’s one you’ll want to pore over in detail.

The newest special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) entering the fleet is Direct Fly’s Alto 100 represented by Corbi Air. Even with the Dynon SkyView, the low-wing Czech LSA is offered at just under $100,000. It features an unusual forward-sliding canopy.

Maverick Sport is the first flying car (or roadable aircraft) to earn its S-LSA approval. While manufacturing of missionary-designed aircraft remains in negotiation, this aircraft attracted so much attention at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010 that you could hardly see it. Get a better view at Sebring.

Cessna had its very first production SkyCatcher at last year’s Sebring. Now that deliveries are ramping up, the company could have an expanded display. Meanwhile another general aviation legacy brand, Piper, has made good on its previous Sebring promise to ship many new birds in 2010, and the company will be looking to build on this momentum. Ten months into 2010, Piper had registered more new LSA than any other company.

The Jabiru-powered Rans S-19 will be present; the LoPresti gang (of “Speed Merchant” fame) will help represent Remos; and beyond the airframe producers are all manner of panel goodies and more to check out, including Flight Design’s new SkyView 696 TIS setup that challenges the sophistication of many airline cockpits.

In the What-We-Hope-to-See Department, electric airplanes in the lighter end of aviation offer a compelling platform for development of nonfossil-fueled airplanes. Announcements appear to be quickening, and Sebring visitors may be pleased by the whir of an electric motor…assuming they can hear it over other airplanes and near cars whizzing around the Sebring Raceway.

Some LSA market charges are about the enterprises involved. While their aircraft remain essentially the same, Paradise Aircraft and Floatplanes and Amphibians (FPNA) drew nearer to each other as both companies have engaged Flightline Aviation to help represent them.

No question, Sebring will have lots to see. In closing, I want to advise those who can attend that we expect several more announcements. Among them are two new efforts by the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) to keep FAA sufficiently satisfied with the way the industry is moving so that the federal agency may continue letting the industry blaze a new trail in aviation with minimal direction from FAA. At its annual dinner Thursday evening, LAMA will tell members and others about the safety website www.LAMAsafety.org plus its new audit partner. Come hear all the news and catch the secrets at Sebring…where the aviation year gets started.

Dan Johnson is one of the most recognized writers in the field of ultralight and light-sport aviation and president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA). For more LSA news, please visit www.ByDanJohnson.com. The site includes a directory of aircraft, a listing of instructors, free videos, and hundreds of flight reports.

Late news flash from www.ByDanJohnson.com; Piper Aircraft drops Czech Sport Aircraft and PiperSport!

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