Day One of the 11th
annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo is in the history books, and it was a exciting day for the first-ever Wednesday start of the Expo, including the first sale of an Ekolot Topaz aircraft in the U.S.Some exhibitors are still awaiting the arrival of “weather delayed” aircraft from other parts of the U.S., but most are expected to make their arrival in Sebring no later than Thursday, to fill up all the spaces on the Expo grounds. Some 40 new exhibitors are on the field in Sebring this week, with more than 125 exhibitors in total.
Exhibitors and Expo organizers described Wednesday’s crowd as good. While the lack of sunshine may have kept some local visitors home, exhibitors reported that those in attendance were a “quality crowd,” definitely interested in shopping for aircraft and not just “kicking tires.” Sebring Airport Executive Director Mike Willingham and Expo Director Jana Filip both described attendance as “better than expected.”
AOPA Senior Editor Dave Hirschman was today’s featured speaker. He shared his recent experiences flying a Carbon Cub and an RV-12 light-sport aircraft, describing them as some of his most memorable flights in 2014. A long-time certified flight instructor, Hirschman also related his experience of providing flight training to two wounded Marines to fly as sport pilots, observing that the 20-hour training requirement for a sport pilot certificate is indeed a reasonable amount of time. “You can truly teach someone to fly an LSA in 20 hours, even when they have to compensate for physical disabilities.” He also discussed the joint AOPA/EAA request for elimination of the third-class medical and the Part 23 rewrite. Hirschman noted that allowing the using of ASTM standards as opposed to FAA regulations could easily help make refurbished production aircraft a viable affordable aircraft option and provide an increased measure of safety.
In conjunction with the Expo, and because most LSA manufacturers are on site in Sebring, the ASTM F-37 Standards Committee for Light-Sport Aircraft held meetings today to discuss new and amended standards for LSA. Members of the committee reported that the meetings were quite productive.
Bearhawk Aircraft brought its Bearhawk LSA to the Sebring Expo for the first time, with Wayne Massey flying the aircraft from near Austin, Texas, to Sebring this week. According to Bearhawk Aircraft owner Mark Goldberg the aircraft is now using a Catto 76-inch by 44-inch propeller, resulting in greater performance. Massey said the aircraft flies wide-open throttle at 2850 rpm at 130 mph; at 75% power it flies 120 mph at 2600 rpm burning 5.5 gph. “This is the propeller that builders will want to use on their aircraft,” Massey said.
This first day of the Expo wrapped up with the Light Aircraft Manufacturer’s Association (LAMA) annual dinner in the Aviators Hot Line Show Center tent. More than 280 exhibitors, LAMA members, and friends enjoyed a dinner co-sponsored by Aviators Hot Line and ULPower. Spirits were high as attendees enjoyed visiting with friends old and new. A surprise for the evening was the static display of one Tesla Motors’ electric cars, with a second car available on the field this week for short test drives.
There is a lot of Expo left to experience … and the weather for the rest of the event looks great. C’mon down to visit.
Learn more about Expo 2015 at www.sportaviationexpo.com.