Sebring LSA Expo breaks records

The U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, held in Sebring, Florida, Jan. 19-22, posted record-breaking attendance this year.

According to Bert Simpson, FAA Staff Manager, North Florida District, “There were a total of 3,434 flight operations during the four-day event with Saturday being the biggest at 1,256. The busiest hours were Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. with 222 flight operations taking place at that time, making Sebring Regional Airport (SEF) the busiest airport in the country.

The Sebring LSA Expo recorded a total of 156 exhibitors with 149 aircraft on display. Sebring Regional Airport Executive Director Mike Willingham stated, “There were approximately 16,000 attendees. We are ecstatic with these preliminary results.” The show saw huge numbers of visitors on Friday and Saturday, and exhibitors were very pleased, he noted. Ticket sales were approximately 15% over last year’s numbers.

“The success of Expo was a culmination of great weather, increased marketing, and the addition of new events,” stated Jana Filip, EXPO Director. This year saw the addition of an AvBid Aircraft Auction, model airplane contest, food and wine pairing events, a seaplane base and Splash-In at Lake Jackson, and more.

The AvBid Auction was a huge success. “Usually we sell 20%, but at Expo we sold a third of our auction inventory,” said Sam Sirani, with AvBid. The auction took place on Saturday with live bidding and live video streaming for bidders who were unable to attend the auction in person. An auction highlight: John “Lites” Leenhouts, president of Sun ‘n Fun outbid all for the Garmin AERA GPS 796 Americas XM (donated by Garmin), with all proceeds going to the local EAA Young Eagles Chapter.

The benefit wine and food pairing events were extremely well received and Expo will be cutting checks to both the local EAA Young Eagles Chapter 1240 and the Humane Society of Highlands County as a result of their success, officials said. igourmet participated in a cheese and wine tasting event, as well as offering cheese for sampling at one of the indoor booths. The exotic igourmet cheeses were completely sold out by Saturday afternoon. Guests of Expo were offered a discount to buy from igourmet.

Craig Fuller, president of AOPA, and Rod Hightower, president of EAA, both gave speeches that drew standing room only crowds for each event.

Exhibitors had great things to say about this year’s Expo, organizers said, listing just a few:

Said Roger Dubbert, with Zenith,“We will sell 6-10 planes just from the show!”

Rob Rollison of Aerotrek Aircraft said, “Sold two planes…Combination of upsurge in LSA market, and good weather. We’ve been doing this show for 8 years.”

Hansen Air Group’s Mike Hansen had this to say, “Just about everyone that walked in stopped by the Comet. We gave three press demo rides and four interviews with the press.”

Randy Schlitter, president of Rans, remarked, “The show is one of my favorite shows. It’s productive with good traffic. We always know we’ll make sales because of the show.”

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