Sebring Sport Aviation Expo prepares for take off

The Sebring Regional Airport will be buzzing with activity later this week when the ninth annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo opens its four-day run, Jan. 17-20.

More than 16,000 visitors attended the 2012 Expo, and organizers say they hope to break that attendance record this week.

On Friday and Saturday, the Expo will present its first-ever twilight air shows, featuring the world’s largest air show team, the 12-member Team AeroDynamix, along with Hall of Fame aerobatic pilot Patty Wagstaff and Tiger Air Shows “Hotwire Harry.” The airshows, sponsored by the Jarrett Family Foundation, will offer precision flying exhibitions along with some comedy flying, offering great family entertainment. Patty Wagstaff will also hold an “arm chair” interview session with Expo attendees on Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m., and a mentoring session with interested youth at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. Both events will take place in the Alan Jay Hangar adjacent to Expo grounds.

Aviation history buffs will have the opportunity to tour, and possibly take a flight in, three historic aircraft from the World War II era when the Wings of Freedom Tour arrives at the Expo on Friday, Jan. 18, with a B-17 and B-24 bomber and a P-51 fighter. The aircraft will remain on display on the Expo grounds throughout the weekend.

Thursday, opening day, will feature a salute to the 75th anniversary of the Piper J-3 Cub. Cub owners from throughout the southeast United States are invited to fly their aircraft into Sebring Regional Airport, where they will have a special parking space and free admission to the event for the day. Cub owners planning to participate are invited to gather at the Okeechobee (OBE) or Winter Haven (GIF) Airports prior to departing for Sebring. For more information, email Larry at

Also on Friday and Saturday, attendees can participate in two gourmet wine and cheese tasting events, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. both days. The wine and cheese events, which have a separate admission fee, benefit the Humane Society of Highlands County. Those purchasing tasting event tickets will get into Expo free on the day of the tasting event.

In addition to the above activities, more than 150 exhibitors will be displaying their aircraft and aviation-related products and services. And, educational forums will be held throughout the weekend, for people learn more about becoming involved in aviation as well as new aviation products and services.

Throughout the weekend, the Seaplane Pilot’s Association will host a seaplane base on Lake Jackson, near the Sunset Grill Restaurant. Visitors to the Expo are invited to visit the seaplane base from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday through Sunday to explore seaplane flying.

On Sunday, Expo will wrap up its weekend of activities with a model airplane contest open to model builders of all ages, a drawing to give away an iPad, and a sendoff to a contingent of light-sport aircraft that will depart on an annual fly-out to the Bahamas.

The Sport Aviation Show features light sport and sport aircraft, and includes conventional aircraft, kit planes, powered parachutes, trikes, gyros, amphibians, and innovative designs such as electrically powered aircraft, with more than 150 aircraft on display.

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