By TED LUEBBERS
If you looked a little deeper into a couple of the displays at the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase, held Nov. 3-5, 2016, at the Deland Municipal Airport in Florida, you might have been pleased to notice the number of young people that were there.
There were many light sport and ultralight sport aircraft on display. There were informative forums and workshops related to sport aviation, a large covered display tent with the latest in avionics for your new homebuilt, and a chance to visit the manufacturer’s displays on the tarmac.
This is the home of the EAA Chapter 635, which was very busy each day of the show roasting corn and serving a big breakfast on Saturday morning. I am sure all those skills honed from many fly-ins over the years made this a success.
All and all, my wife Joan and I had a delightful day trying to see everything and meeting interesting people.
Of particular interest to us were four young people we met. Three of them were from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the fourth was a 15- year-old girl who makes jewelry and is building her own airplane.
Kyle Petesch, Tony Tianyuan Zhoo, and Victoria Jingsi Li are three Embry Riddle Aeronautical University students we met at a display of a battery-powered aircraft that they said would be able to fly for about two hours with a battery pack weighing a little over 300 pounds.
This pack would be made up of 2,700 small rechargeable batteries about the size of AA batteries as we know them. The electric engine they were demonstrating was running quietly with its standard size prop turning within a safety cage right in front of us.
Joan and I were impressed with these young people and their explanations of how the system worked. I wondered what it must be like for them to be working on such a cutting edge project at their age. This was certainly a glimpse into the future of not only sport aviation, but probably commercial aviation as well.
The other young person we met was a young girl from Machias, Maine, who was celebrating her 15th birthday. Rachel St Louis had a display of jewelry in a well-appointed, air conditioned utility trailer on the tarmac amidst all the other aviation displays. Rachel had made all or most of the earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pins herself and was doing a brisk business at the show.
Now you might wonder what is the big deal about selling jewelry at an airshow? The big deal is, at her young age, this is her business and all the profits are plowed into her building of a Bush Cat airplane. The Bush Cat’s frame was sitting in front of the trailer. She already has about 150 hours flight time in her dad’s Cessna 172 and has completed 10 takeoffs and landings in a seaplane.
Rachel was also one of three guest speakers at the show where she talked about the development of her jewelry business and how it was geared to help her achieve her desire to complete the building of her own airplane.
All she really wants to do is fly. This is a young women with a goal and she has the strong support of her parents. You might want to check out her web site, RachelsJewelryMachias.com.
We also discovered Aviation Explorer Post & Club 491, based at the DeLand Airport. Their booth was busily selling hot dogs and hamburgers to passersby like ourselves. We were interested because our own EAA Chapter 534 has recently sponsored Aviation Explorer Post 534 at the Leesburg International Airport in Leesburg, Florida.
With so many gray beards involved with aviation today it was refreshing to see and talk with so many young people showing a keen interest in becoming pilots and seeking careers in aviation in their futures.