A new event caught the attention of LSA and experimental aircraft enthusiasts this weekend, drawing decent-size crowds to the inaugural DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase.
The three-day weekend was filled with forums and workshops addressing topics in sport aviation, and about 100 exhibitors displayed their wares and aircraft under clear, sunny skies at DeLand Municipal Airport, an hour from Orlando where the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition wrapped up earlier in the week.
Some manufacturers offered demo flights, and sport aircraft, from gyrocopters to motor gliders to kit airplanes, could be seen taking off throughout the day. Many attendees chose to fly in, with some even camping on the grounds overnight.
The DeLand Showcase also featured a product not always seen at general aviation events or airports — unleaded avgas — something Chris D’Acosta, CEO of Swift Fuels, a sponsor of the event, said he hopes will change.
Swift Fuels was on hand all weekend fueling airplanes and spreading the word about its UL94 MON avgas.
D’Acosta said he’s seen increased interest in unleaded avgas across the country, and about 20 central Florida airports have contacted Swift Fuels about UL94 in response to the DeLand Showcase.
“People are saying ‘We want to have this fuel,’ so we’re doing our best to work it out and make it happen,” D’Acosta said.
UL94 is considered “drop-in ready” for engines that require lower-octane fuel, or about 65 percent of the U.S. piston-engine fleet, D’Acosta said, making it a good fit for the LSA showcase in DeLand.
The push for unleaded fuel in aviation is spearheaded by a government and industry collaboration called the Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative (PAFI). Proposed fuels to replace 100LL avgas are undergoing a two-phase review process before being accepted for widespread production and distribution.
Through PAFI, Swift Fuels has developed an unleaded 102 octane avgas as a replacement for 100LL. It’s seeking FAA fleet-wide approval for UL102, which D’Acosta says is expected in 2018. UL102 is one of two unleaded avgas fuels being tested in Phase II of the PAFI program.
D’Acosta said UL94 gives pilots and mechanics the same performance as low-lead avgas but none of the spark plug fouling or oil system corrosion often caused by lead. It also has public health and environmental benefits.
“There’s no safe amount of lead in our environment,” D’Acosta said. “Our duty as an aircraft fuel company is to try to find a way to make a commercially viable, practical, compatible type of fuel that pilots can use that solves this problem.”
UL94 was sold full service at the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase for $3.95 per gallon. It’s currently for sale at about 40 airports and private users around the country.
Check out more photos from the first DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase. Photo Gallery