Sebring LSA Expo: Keeps getting better and better

Sunshine, light breezes, and a 15% increase in attendance over 2011 helped make this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, one of the best attended LSA expos in recent years. (See gallery of photos below).

Known by most as the Sebring LSA Expo, the show was held Jan. 19-22 at Sebring Regional Airport (SEF). It attracted more than 16,000 people, with many visitors arriving by air.

According to the FAA’s Bert Simpson, there were 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 the busiest airport in the country,” he reported.

The expo hosted 156 exhibitors, ranging from aircraft manufacturers to aviation organizations. Visitors could learn about airpark living, shop for avionics, learn about other aircraft fly-ins, or pick up material to help them advance their aviation knowledge. Many visitors were there to get more information about becoming a Sport Pilot.

The 149 aircraft on display ran the gamut from trikes to experimental kits to factory built S-LSAs. Aircraft manufacturers reported brisk business as a slew of shoppers were given the opportunity to test fly aircraft. Several vendors reported that they were going home with fewer aircraft because their demo models had been sold and the new owners were flying them home.

A temporary ATC facility was set up in the airport’s World War II era control tower. At the base of the tower is a plaque noting that Sebring Regional Airport, then known as Hendrickson Field, was a B-17 base during World War II. Several pilots who flew in remarked it was a thrill to use the same tarmac that had been used by bomber pilots way back when.

Repeat visitors noted that the show continues to get better and better, with more offerings.

Expo Director Jana Filip credited the addition of a model airplane contest, food and wine pairing events, a seaplane base, and an AvBid Aircraft Auction with helping draw the public.

Trends noted at the show include foldable wings to allow for ease of storage. Hansen Air Group’s FK Comet, brought out last year as the first legal aerobatic LSA, attracted a crowd during its wing folding demonstration, which, the sales team noted, took less than five minutes to accomplish.

Another trend: Floats. It appears that more manufacturers are embracing the option of putting their LSAs on floats. Legend Cub had a float equipped design on display, and the boat-hulled LSAs, such as the SeaRay and SeaMax, also were well represented.

The show is traditionally held the third week of January, but the dates for next year’s event have not been announced yet.

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