DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase 2019 Called a Success

The 4th annual event featured a broad collection of light sport aircraft in spite of rainy weather.

The flight line from the 2018 Sport Aviation Showcase
The flight line from the 2018 Sport Aviation Showcase demonstrates what’s possible when the weather cooperates.Sport Aviation Showcase

DeLand Municipal Airport is on a mission to become a hub for sport aviation in the southeast United States, taking the mantle from Sebring, Florida, following the end of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo at the Sebring Regional Airport, with its last event hosted in January 2019. Fans of sport aviation may have been wondering where they might go to enjoy the camaraderie and focus on their corner of the flying world when the Sebring event shuttered after 15 years—and now that question looks to be definitively answered.

The DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase celebrated its fourth year with a successful event from November 14 to 16 last week at the airport, with a host of pleased exhibitors and pilots from around the region—in spite of inclement weather. The three-day event showed off roughly 100 aircraft, 24 educational forums, kitbuilders workshops and keynote speakers, with a relatively low price of admission ($20 for one day, and $40 for a three-day pass for adults, with discounts for youth, students, and association members).

Jana Filip, sport aviation administrator for the DeLand Municipal Airport, reflected on this year’s show: “Mother Nature had different ideas—it was quite an incredible week as far as that goes. But our field was full going into the show. We had several aircraft come in extremely early because they anticipated the weather.” By five pm Thursday, November 14, all but one display aircraft had flown in—and all of the exhibitors still came. “We had openings in the weather and everyone took advantage of it. We added a 4-pm STOL exhibition one afternoon, and those guys had fun.” Logistics like parking took a hit, because of muddy fields—but on the whole the exhibitors left happy. “We had double digits of aircraft sold.” Despite the bad weather, attendance revenue edged out the total from 2018. “Kudos to the sport aviation community for hanging in there,” said Filip.

The DeLand airport continues development to support the sport aviation mission: It reported in Summer 2019 that $7.1 million had been raised already to build a 6,000-square-foot administration building and rehabilitate the first of the airport ramp areas. There’s more to come, with the refurbishment of additional ramp space, and a new fuel farm in the works. The airport’s Sport Aviation Village proposes to be a year-round venue for light sport aviation—it’s already a center for parachute manufacturers and MT Propellers—with the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase the main event each year. Dates for next year were still TBD at press time.