By JOAN LUEBBERS
What makes one aviation show a resounding success and another just okay?
After attending all four DeLand Sport Aviation Showcases, I set out to find the answer.
Along the way several of my assumptions were proved right.
The secret of this show’s success is Jana Filip, Sport Aviation Administrator at DeLand Municipal Airport (KDED) in Florida, and her ability to focus on the details.
Jana doesn’t have a paid staff, instead managing the Showcase with the help of 130 volunteers, including a three-month commitment by her husband Gary Filip.
The volunteers are divided into 23 teams, each with a team leader. Over the past four years she has only lost one team leader, keeping the volunteers knowledgeable about their area of concentration and ready when the gates open.
For example, when rain fell Thursday night continuing through Friday morning at this year’s Showcase, which was held from Nov. 14-16, 2019, the volunteers automatically went into rain mode. They closed parking areas that were muddy and directed drivers to other lots.
Although she’s not a pilot or aircraft owner, Jana comes to the job with years of experience in the hospitality industry with an emphasis on event planning.
After volunteering for the first seven years at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, Jana took over the show following the retirement of administrator Bob Wood in 2011.
In 2016 she was recruited by DeLand to organize a sport aviation show and develop the DeLand Sport Aviation Village, a commerce center on the edge of the airport. The aim was to put DeLand on the map in the sport aviation field by developing additional private hangar space.
The first two phases of the Village are now available for ground leases from the City of DeLand. Tenants develop and build their own hangars. All infrastructure is now complete, including taxiways and roads, Jana reports.
Since the first show, the showcase has concentrated on the sport recreation segment of the general aviation industry. The number of exhibitors has remained constant over the years. The fourth annual show featured 26 firms new to Showcase, with all exhibit space occupied.
In recruiting exhibitors Jana says she looks for quality over quantity while keeping the show sector specific. She sees the Showcase as a business trade show for sport aviation. Each year she aims to feature what is new in the field.
Attendance has also grown. The first DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase in 2016 attracted 5,000 visitors, while the 2019 show drew 8,000.
For the 2019 show a Passport Program was started. Attendees received the passport when entering the show and could have the card stamped at each indoor exhibit. Cards were then turned in and a drawing was held at 3:45 p.m. daily for gifts and gift cards.
Also new to the 2019 show was a Short Take Off and Landing demonstration. The STOL aircraft were announced and took off from the airfield for a short flight and landed. The aircraft also were on exhibit at their display areas.