By Ted Luebbers
Four years in a row the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase has highlighted light sport aircraft, ultralights, powered parachutes, gyrocopters and associated flight gear.
The latest extravaganza took place at the DeLand Municipal Airport (KDED) in Florida, Nov. 14-16.
Jana Filip, Sport Aviation Administrator for the Deland Municipal Airport, put together another successful show highlighting a growing segment of general aviation.
After an impressive opening ceremony with a flag ceremony by the DeLand High School ROTC and a spectacular parachute demonstration by the Qatar Special Forces, who train at DeLand, the show got off to a good start.
It seemed that the weather gods were looking out for the show as a cold front slid through on Thursday night and by Friday morning the rain had stopped. Temperatures were on the cool side on Saturday, but that meant that the STOL aircraft got into the air a bit quicker. Demonstration flights were able to take place each day.
Even though the show stressed the recreational aspect of flying, there were a lot of things there to appeal to the average private pilot. For example, there were forums about how to build your own aircraft, non-towered airport operations, and an overview of ADS-B, just to name a few. One could receive FAA Wings credit for several of these presentations. There were two forum tents and eight topics discussed each day — plenty of opportunity for solid learning.
There were many indoor displays of aircraft instruments, equipment, and services. According to officials, 33 companies and organizations had booths in two large tents. A few of those represented were Avidyne Corporation, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Daytona 99s, Garmin, Hoover Foundation, Lockwood/Rotax, and Sport Aircraft Canada.
Starting at noon each day there were demonstration flights of the various aircraft on display. The aircraft would takeoff, do a couple of touch and goes while being described over the public address system so the audience sitting on the bleachers knew what plane was flying and general information about each one.
Something new was added this year at 4 p.m. each day. This was a short takeoff and landing demonstration. It was not an actual contest, but an opportunity for people to better understand the capabilities of STOL aircraft. Some of those planes providing the “WOW” factor during the demonstration were Just Aircraft, Zenith Aircraft, and Bush Cat.
There were 58 outdoor displays. The majority were light sport aircraft, ultralights, powered parachutes, and gyro copters. There were aircraft engines to look at, aviation jewelry to be purchased, and flight schools that would sign you up for lessons.
If you were hungry you didn’t have to walk far. Right there on the grounds was EAA Chapter 635 providing breakfast and lunch. Ice cream, crepes and charbroil food were also available and the show ran a shuttle to two airport restaurants.
Zenith Aircraft ran a three-day workshop on how to build an aluminum aircraft, such as the CH750. Sebastien Heinz, Zenith’s president, and members of his staff taught people who had never worked with aluminum before how easy it was to construct parts for his airplane kit.
They had six folks who built the rudder for the CH750 and about 35 people who put together other aluminum parts for the fuselage in the back of the tent. Sebastien said that many people end up ordering one of their aircraft kits after they find out that it is not all that difficult to put one together.
William Wynn ran a workshop on Thursday demonstrating how to convert a Chevy Corvair engine for aircraft usage. If you can find one of those Chevrolet Corvair cars rusting away in a field or stored in a dusty old barn don’t junk it. That Corvair engine can be converted to power your new experimental light sport aircraft with a little time and money invested.
It appeared that the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase had another successful show. Filip noted an increase in vendors, outside displays, and an increase in early ticket sales compared to past years.