Smaller is (sometimes) better

Air shows drive the calendar of many people involved with aviation, certainly so for the business men and women. Everyone knows about the large events, such as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh at the end of July or Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Florida, at the end of March, or AOPA’s Aviation Summit, which is approaching at the end of September, somewhat earlier than the big association’s usual convention as it’s held this year in Hartford, Connecticut. Summit moves around the country and when it is held down south or out west it usually occurs a month or more later. Additional major events are held for business aircraft, helicopters, and avionics.

While impacting much of aviation, these big shows are hardly the only game in town. Another tier of events includes the Northwest Conference in February, the Arlington show in early July, Copperstate in October (and coming up sooner than you think), Golden West in June, along with other events that are surprisingly numerous. Joining the second tier events to the majors still fails to completely cover the year.

Finally we come to what I call small venue events, and for some businesses, these can be the most successful. While they don’t draw huge crowds and major air show acts, they can be essential to the commerce of aviation, often providing a substantial boost to aircraft sales and all manner of peripheral products. Often, the small venue events are focused on a category or occurrences in a specific region. Many aviation professionals find the most satisfying interaction with customers at these small venue events.

For example, this weekend, Sept. 9-11, the Midwest LSA Expo is held for Light-Sport Aircraft. Modeled after the grandaddy of LSA events — the Sebring U. S. Sport Aviation Expo — the Midwest LSA Expo is part of a growing roster of events for a single category. At these usually shorter events, customers and suppliers are more casual. Customers can have more fulfilling conversations with experts and they can take demo flights much more easily than at the big venue events. Shows remain vital to the enterprise of aviation, as AirVenture’s robust sales proved again. Just don’t forget the smaller shows, where you get plenty of bank for less bucks and generally closer to home.

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