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Bigger and Better Than Ever Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo Headed to a Strong Event

By Dan Johnson, for Light Plane World

Dan Johnson

With the holiday season now in full swing, we’re hearing more about the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. The reorganized Sebring operation has been sending more e-mail, running more ads, and releasing more news. That helps, but clearly the midwinter event in the Sunshine State has plenty of appeal. The eighth running of the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is fast approaching and with it a new year of recreational flying.

When founding Expo Chairman Bob Wood said he would step down after the first seven years of Sebring, many wondered if new director Jana Filip could fill Wood’s shoes. Indeed, with Bob still helping - plus a small army of willing volunteers - the Sebring Expo appears poised for even greater growth. The fact that it happens amid general sluggishness throughout aviation is quite remarkable.

Major Drawing Power
Time was when Sebring, as an upstart air show, couldn’t attract the biggest names in aviation. That’s been changing. For 2012 the drawing power appears to have accelerated.

Consider the confirmed list of highly placed officials coming to Sebring 2012: EAA President Rod Hightower will address the LAMA (Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association) Dinner on Thursday; GAMA (General Aviation Manufacturers Association) President and CEO Pete Bunce will lead a joint GAMA/LAMA meeting on Wednesday with LSA businessmen; and AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) President Craig Fuller will make an appearance on Friday. Here are three of general aviation’s biggest leaders all showing at Sebring 2012. That’s never happened before.

As they’ve done at previous Sebring events, FAA is planning meetings with LSA manufacturers and importers. Along with the chance to speak directly to the association leaders, access to FAA officials is appreciated by the LSA business community.

LSA professionals look forward to the Fifth Annual LAMA Dinner at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo on the evening of opening day, January 19. For the last four years, LAMA has attracted a standing-room-only crowd at its annual dinner. The event takes place in the AeroShell tent at Sebring, compliments of generous support from the oil company. The largest gathering of LSA professionals at any show, LAMA draws 300 or more persons, all industry participants. The dinner is by invitation only.

Aircraft and More to See
For several years Sebring has collected the largest collection (and concentration) of LSA of any show. An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 attendees come to see all the LSA or other sport pilot-eligible aircraft that people enjoy flying for fun. Sebring has become a place to release new models or improvements for the following year, and 2012 should be no exception.

Up-and-comer Pipistrel USA will have its Pipistrel Sinus LSA motorglider on display along with other models. Pipistrel USA importer Michael Coates said, “This is the new model with removable wingtips,” meaning it has two available wingspans. “We will also have the Pipistrel Virus on display as well as one or two other aircraft on the flightline for demonstration.”

Florida-based U.S. Sport Aircraft is bringing its new SportCruiser Classic and new Dynon SkyView-equipped SportCruiser SVA. “We can serve immediate interest with several planes, including a few PiperSports, in stock and available for immediate delivery,” said Don Ayres, president of USSA.

Flight Design USA will make a CTLS equipped with Dynon SkyView available for demos. The market leader will also have a CTLE (Law Enforcement / public use) aircraft from Echo Flight Resources and Airtime Aviation of Tulsa. This will be the first Florida showing of the specially outfitted aircraft.

SeaMax America is the newly appointed exclusive representative for the only currently available special light-sport aircraft flying boat, the SeaMax M-22. “This stylish, efficient, go anywhere, amphibious aircraft can accomplish operations on land, sea, grass, and snow,” reported New York-based importer Richard Rofe.

Leading LSA avionics supplier Dynon plans hands-on SkyView training at Sebring. “Dynon will offer free courses on how to operate SkyView, the company’s runaway hit EFIS display,” said aviation writer/photographer James Lawrence, LSA editor for Plane & Pilot magazine. The 3.5-hour classes will be held all four mornings and the first three afternoons at Sebring. Working SkyViews will be set up so people can get some real hands-on tutoring. Class size will be limited to the first 15 people who sign up, and classes will be held at the nearby Chateau Elan Hotel. Run by Kirk Kleinholz, CFII and SkyView expert, this first set of classes will be free.

The preceding are only highlights, with many more great aircraft and products available for close review. No question about it, Sebring will have plenty to see. The event runs January 19 to 22, 2012. Hotels are already filling up, and nearly everyone in the LSA field seems to be preparing for the eighth running of the show. Come on down—Florida guarantees no snow and plenty of LSA!

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.

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