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.
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.”