Show Was Well Attended, And There Was A Lot Of Flying
The inaugural Deland Sport Aviation Expo brought out many of major players in the sport aviation industry, and while official attendance numbers have not been released, the show appeared to be fairly well attended, and there was a lot of flying going on.
The exhibitors included such well known names as Bristell, Pipistrel, Kitfox, Vans Aircraft, RANS Aircraft and Cubcrafters. There were also several gyrocopter and ultralight manufacturers represented on the field. In the exhibitor's tent, visitors found avionics geared to the sport aviation industry, as well as headsets, and other aftermarket items available for sale.
Jabiru introduced its new J170-D to the U.S. market at the show. The airplane, as well as several others, have base prices starting at under $100,000 for a new, ready-to-fly LSA. Of course, adding options can still push the price well north of the $100K mark.
The weather was very cooperative for the event, and there was a lot of flying activity going on at the airport during the show. Many manufacturers were offering demonstration rides to potential buyers and media.
The Expo featured a keynote address from EAA’s Charlie Becker, the Director of Chapters, Communities & Homebuilt Community Manager. He also spoke at two of the kit building forums.
Ted Lubbers of EAA Chapter 635, the local chapter at Deland, noted that there were a lot of younger people at the show. Of particular interest were Kyle Petesch, Tony Tianyuan Zhoo and Victoria Jingsi Li ... three Embry Riddle Aeronautical University students who were displaying a battery powered aircraft that they said would be able to fly for about 2 hours with a battery pack weighing a little over 300 pounds. This pack would be made up of 2700 small rechargeable batteries about the size of AA batteries. The electric engine they were demonstrating was running quietly with its standard size prop turning in a safety cage on the field.
Then, there was Rachel St. Louis, a 15-year-old entrepreneur who handcrafts aviation-themed jewelry to finance her Bush Cat homebuilt airplane. The frame of the airplane was on display in front of the trailer from which she was selling her jewelry. She already has about 150 hours flight time in her dad’s Cessna 172 and has completed 10 takeoffs and landings in a seaplane, according to Lubbers.
While this initial show was small, it has potential. The second annual event is already being planned for November 2-4, 2017.