By Dan Johnson
In their second event, Aero Showcase is hosting a flock of airplanes at one of Florida’s most vibrant recreational aviation airports. Partners Alex Rolinski and Doma Andreka return for the second annual of their own event, which follows on the heels of the DeLand Showcase that ran several years, all of which grew out of the Sebring LSA Expo.
While the DeLand event is still growing compared to those earlier events, it enjoys a beautiful new facility and will present a good selection of airplanes. When I asked attendees at last year’s first Aero Showcase, most thought the organizers did credibly well.
The time of year is a perfect choice, judged from studying decades of detailed skydiving jump records—DeLand is a world center for sport parachuting. In addition, the snowbirds have not arrived en masse by early November, so restaurants have few waiting lists, and hotel rooms and rental cars are more modestly priced than they will be January through March.
Using the apron out front of the new terminal building makes it easy on visitors and vendors alike. The Airport Restaurant & Gin Mill restaurant draws people from town on a steady basis. It’s a matter of steps to a sandwich or a beverage. Onsite, Aero Showcase plans a Thirsty Husky Coffee Truck (Friday only) and an ice cream truck.
The partners at Aero Affinity have been busy, in fact moving in multiple directions at once. While the organization plans to start building a new hangar facility at the DeLand airport later this year, the enterprise has signed a new agreement with Tecnam, arguably the world’s largest manufacturer of light aircraft. Formed in 1948, Tecnam is headquartered in Capua, Italy, and operates subsidiaries in Sebring, Florida, USA, and Brisbane, Australia.
“Tecnam is pleased to announce a dedicated maintenance training program for the Americas, flight schools, service centers and all other interested parties in partnership with DeLand, Florida-based Aero Affinity Holding Company,” the Italian manufacturer said.
The several companies under Rolinski and Andreka’s direction sell airplanes, build airplanes, offer services, present training courses, and in their spare time, they put on the Aero Showcase mentioned above. Tecnam was obviously impressed.
“To achieve the highest level of service, we are introducing customized training packages, provided by Tecnam’s Technical Representative Partner, the DeLand, Florida-based Aero Affinity Holding Company,” said Tecnam. “These will consist of multiple programs from our fleet, ensuring that our customers gain a great insight into our philosophy as aircraft pioneers.”
The courses will cover the entire Tecnam fleet, including light sport, with detailed overview of the entire Tecnam fleet or specific model requested and with special focus on airframe, engine, and systems. They will be offered in different editions for different locations such as Ontario, Canada, Florida, and California.
At the end of the courses, participants will have complete insight into the Tecnam world and be eligible to become an Authorized Tecnam Service Center.
While the Tecnam deal is certainly important to this growing enterprise, Rolinski traveled for full factory training with Continental Aerospace motors to set up his company for diesel aircraft engine service work. Its heart is in LSA, but its vision is broad.
Van’s Aircraft Difficulties
As last week ended, Van’s Aircraft, producer of the world’s most successful line of kit aircraft—and manufacturer of the LSA-compliant RV-12—shared some difficult information.
In keeping with a strong reputation built over many years, the news was presented clearly, honestly, and forthrightly. Founder Dick VanGrunsven spoke on behalf of his company.
“Van’s currently faces serious cash flow issues, which must be addressed quickly to ensure ongoing operations,” began VanGrunsven. “We are confident we can work through this situation, but some changes are required.”
Through mid-November this year, “shipments will be delayed, kit orders will not be processed, and refunds will not be issued. We will be unable to conduct factory tours and demo flights,” said Van’s.
Van’s faced a perfect storm that started when pandemic-driven price increases raised its costs. Then, an overseas contractor used an inferior primer, resulting in aluminum corrosion forming on a large number of kits. Next, Van’s had some outsourced laser-cut parts that showed problems. Many builders alerted the company.
Although Van’s has carefully constructed its enterprise and has satisfied many thousands of customers, even a well-run company can run into multiple problems at once that can overwhelm it for a time. Van’s will solve this and I hope its many customers, new and former, will not only cut it some slack but perhaps step up to help.
The very best is for you to listen to the boss himself explain the situation in the clear and concise manner for which he is known (video below; 3 minutes). VanGrunsven stepped up with his wife to provide additional funds to put the world’s largest kit aircraft maker onto a sounder footing.