By TED LUEBBERS
Aviation enthusiasts were drawn for the second year in a row to the DeLand Municipal Airport in Deland, Florida, to attend the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase on Nov. 2-4, 2017.
This year’s show seemed bigger with more displays outside and inside. Three days of good flying weather meant that people considering buying an ultralight or light-sport aircraft had many opportunities for a demonstration flight.
There were 55 exhibitors displaying kit or manufactured planes, as well as avionics and other displays related to sport aviation.
There were eight forums each day of the showcase, covering everything from homebuilts to the practical use of avionics.
This year the Experimental Aircraft Association included two of its SportAir Workshops, taught each day by John Brecher.
The morning sessions were a composite course covering the basics of fiberglass construction, while the afternoon sessions were devoted to sheet metal construction techniques and riveting.
Materials for these workshops were provided by Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Company, one of the show’s sponsors.
Since my wife Joan and I have been going to aviation events like this, we have become more aware of the number of young people who attend. This is a good thing as the number of active pilots is diminishing and in the near future there is going to be a great need for new pilots and aircraft mechanics.
There were several groups at this showcase that do a lot to interest young people in flying careers or to become private pilots.
First and foremost is the EAA, with its Young Eagles program that introduces kids to the wonders of flight by taking them up in general aviation aircraft for their first plane ride. Now in its 25th year, more than 2 million Young Eagles have taken flight.
There were other groups at the showcase focused on youngsters. Some of them grant scholarships to help them become pilots or get them interested in building an airplane. They also recognize the long-term need to interest kids in aviation. Some of these organizations are AviNation, The Flying Musicians, and the Eagles Nest program.
Last year we met a 15-year-old young woman, Rachel St Louis from Machias, Maine, who was selling aviation jewelry to fund her building of a Bush Cat kit airplane. She was there again this year selling her jewelry.
In front of her showcase trailer was the completed fuselage of her plane. She is doing all this on her own with the help of encouraging parents.
By the way, she just turned 16 so we expect when we see her at next year’s show she will have her private pilot’s license.
Next year the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase will be held Nov. 1-3, 2018, and we hope to be there again.