Retired astronaut Story Musgrave, former SR-71 pilot USAF Col. Richard Graham (Ret.), and AOPA feature writer Dave Hirschman are this year’s keynote speakers for the 11th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, Jan. 14-17, on Sebring Regional Airport (SEF).
Keynote speakers will make their presentations daily at 1:30 p.m. in the Aviators Hot Line Show Center Tent.
On opening day, Wednesday, Jan. 14, longtime AOPA Pilot feature writer Dave Hirschman will speak. Hirschman has been a senior editor for AOPA Pilot since 2008 and has flown a wide variety of general aviation airplanes on assignments throughout the United States Germany, Greenland, Mexico, the Caribbean, and New Zealand.
During his keynote speech, Hirschman will discuss how light-sport aircraft (LSA) have moved from the “fringe” to part of mainstream general aviation, and how the rest of the aviation industry hopes to emulate the LSA category in terms of technology and regulation as part of the rewrite of FAR Part 23.
On Thursday, Jan. 15, the Expo will host a panel discussion among a group of well-known aviation professionals. Moderated by Uncontrolled Airspace personality Jack Hodgson, the panel will discuss ways to keep aircraft ownership affordable and boost general aviation activity, as well as the pros and cons of various affordable aircraft options.
Panelists scheduled include: Charlie Becker, Homebuilding Community Manager, EAA; Tom Bliss, publisher, AVweb; Dan Johnson, president, Light Aircraft Manufacturer’s Association; Phil Lockwood, president, Lockwood Aviation; Brittany Miculka, senior manager, AOPA Pilot Community Development; and Drew Steketee, General Aviation News correspondent and former president of GA Team 2000 and Be-A-Pilot.
On Friday, Jan. 16, retired astronaut and entrepreneur Story Musgrave will meet and greet Expo visitors. An astronaut for more than 30 years, Musgrave flew on six space flights, performed the first shuttle spacewalk, and was the lead spacewalker on the Hubble Telescope repair mission. He will talk about his experiences in space and his life adventures since retiring from the astronaut corps.
On Saturday, Jan. 17, United States Air Force Colonel Richard Graham (Ret.) will share insights from his involvement with the SR-71 Blackbird program. Graham spent seven years as an SR-71 Blackbird pilot, followed by several years as an SR-71 instructor. Once shrouded in secrecy, many of the details of this spy plane and the program surrounding it have now been declassified, and Col. Graham will share his personal experiences.
Forums and Workshops
In addition to daily keynote speakers, the Expo is hosting a full schedule of educational forums throughout the event. These forums will provide information about owning, operating, and maintaining the wide variety of light aircraft displayed at the Expo. The forum schedule will be posted online soon, organizers said.
In the Expo Workshop area, Stewart Systems has returned to give visitors hands-on experience in covering aircraft with fabric. In addition, a special demonstration team will show the proper way to exit an aircraft that has had to ditch in water – a pertinent subject for those flying long distances over water.