Monday, January 19, 2015


The "Affordable" Expo
My plan was to fly Sally down to Sebring, Florida for our first U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. At over 840 miles it would be a two day trip primarily down the east coast, although we might travel west a bit to fly into the Atlanta area for the overnight. But planning a VFR trip in winter is difficult. Snowstorm, ice-storm, windstorm, followed by more IFR conditions forced me to cancel my plans and consider another way. My commercial Delta flight departed Philadelphia and delivered me to Tampa. A rental car would take me the rest of the way.

This way to blue sky
The airport is located right next to the Motor Speedway. So I was a little confused by the signs inviting me to enter Gate #1 or #2, et cetera.  Traveling further down the entrance road led to a "linesman" directing cars into the open field across from the main gate. (No parking fee.) At 9:00am I got a GREAT parking spot. I had pre-registered on-line and once presenting my printed receipt was given a wrist band and Pocket Guide. I entered the gate under foggy, low overcast skies. Booths were still being assembled, only a few planes were positioned for demo. While the exhibitors would polish their displays throughout the week, the IFR conditions would remain ...really through Friday morning. The planes would trickle in, but some tents remained nearly vacant.

The best looking plane at the Expo
I talked with Richard, Prof Paul, "Garbageman", everyone in the Rotax booth (with lots of cold weather operation questions) and of course, the "A"-Team at US Sport Aircraft. Patrick, Stewart, Jim and Kolby did a fantastic job answering questions and promoting the "comely" SportCruiser.

Talk to Steve about this one
The Fora:

  • My first forum was given by Steve McCaughey: Seaplane 101. If you are thinking about flying one you should talk to Steve. He was convincing enough for me to join the Seaplane Pilot's Association and I don't have access to a seaplane!
  • Lou Mancuso: LSA Operational Tips. I was pleased to find someone professing the same ideas I use for instruction. He did a great job explaining techniques he uses for LSA pilots in the landing pattern. 
  • Barry Hull: #1 Killer of Pilots & How you can Prevent it. He has a system on how to measure judgement and as a former F18 pilot brings a lot of credibility to his presentation.
  • Kyle White: Aviation Insurance 101. To say this was exciting would be a gross overstatement. However in today's world there aren't many things in aviation that are more important.
  • Jamie Beckett: Start or Join a Flying Club. Can I do this with Sally? Should I?
  • Phil Lockwood: Rotax Engine 912 Seminar. So many myths and legends. This was really good stuff. I'm not going to use Sea Foam anymore.
  • Paul Shuch: Category and Class. Do I need to take a written test to get a Seaplane endorsement?
  • Nothing wrong with this.
  • Also, Dr. Story Musgrave (Hubble Astronaut) gave a great presentation in the "main tent" over lunch. "Don't give up!"
If I were going to build...
Attendance was down (so I'm told). Airplanes were missing. $2 for my morning coffee. But I was in warm Florida, around lots of new airplanes talking with people really excited about airplanes.

My first time at this show and I really enjoyed it. The "experts" may have other opinions, but I think it was a success.

Kathy picked me up at the Philadelphia Airport on Sunday, during a major ice storm. She had to wait until the major roads were cleared of accidents and their debris, allowing the temperature to get into the high 30s. Wintery weather expected for the rest of the week. Sally and I would have been forced to stay in Florida for another month. (Wait a minute.....)

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