Without a doubt, the hottest January destination in 2019 will be the 15th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. The event, which started as a modest LSA gathering in 2004, has evolved into a good sized get together that spans the sport aviation world, with everything from big-tired taildraggers to jumping gyroplanes, from slick and sleek LSAs for getting around to powered parachutes for going nowhere none too fast.
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Located in Sebring, Florida, the event is well removed from big cities and congested airspace, which is one of the main reasons it’s such a great destination. The airspace is, well, if not wide open then pretty close to it, the airport management are gracious hosts in a way that only Southerners truly know how to be, and there’s plenty of room to stretch out or, if you're lucky enough to go on a demo ride or two, take in some flying. Moreover, the airport, Sebring Regional (KSEF), is expansive, with multiple runways and plenty of ramp space. Bring good walking shoes. You’ll want to see the whole lineup. Fly-in airplanes are welcome, fuel cost is reasonable and there’s plenty of parking. Unlike at some shows, airplane tie down is included in the price of admission, which in our view makes the admission seem like it’s almost free.
Sport Aviation Expo is becoming a top tier fly-in, too. Last year Sebring saw the introduction of a few sport airplanes, the rolling out of a few big model year improvements and a number of companies coming to Sebring for Expo for the first time. The remarkable thing about last year’s event was that it was a freakishly windy event, but even so, it enjoyed record attendance and rave reviews from show-goers and exhibitors alike. And if you’re seriously interested in buying an LSA or sport plane, Sebring is a great place to do some shopping, because it’s big enough to attract the top plane makers and small enough that you can spend some time getting to know them and the plane.
On top of the wide variety of hardware, the show boasts an impressive lineup of events and speakers, all of which are geared toward the light side of aviation. Last year I moderated a panel discussion with Dan Johnson of LAMA, Sebastian Heintz of Zenith Aircraft, and Tom Peghiny of Flight Design, on the coming impact of updated certification standards. This year we look at the future of LSA, which could revolutionize sport and personal aviation. Also featured at Expo will be Martha and John King of King Schools, NASA research scientist Jocelyn Dunn, Bob Jex from the FAA talking about BasicMed, Phil Lockwood from Lockwood Aviation taking about AirCams and Rotax engines, and nearly a dozen more.
There’s also drone racing, youth in aviation events, on-site AMES and much more, making the event four days of sport flying heaven. The event takes place from January 23 to 26, 2019, and tickets are available for individual days or for the entire four-day run of the show. Plane & Pilot will be there for the duration.
To learn more about the event, visit sportaviationexpo.com.