Live From Sebring, The U.S. Sport Aviation Expo

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A Formative Year

Exhibitors were plentiful and crowds were too, as the second annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo wrapped up yesterday under sunny skies in Sebring, Fla. Visitors got to check out more than 100 light-sport aircraft on the field, and EAA issued over 75 new student sport-pilot certificates. "There's a 30-knot wind here today, so not too many demo flights," EAA's Ron Wagner told AVweb on Saturday. "But the first two days, there was a lot of flying going on. We're getting a really knowledgeable audience, a lot of them are here trying to decide what to buy. What we're seeing is a really vibrant new segment of aviation coming alive." There are now 24 LSAs on the market, with Taylorcraft's Taylor Sport the latest to be certified, just last week. "And now here we are in the midst of this really exciting event, and some of these manufacturers have already sold out their 2006 production," Wagner said. On Thursday night, EAA hosted a meeting of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), and spirits were high. "A year or so ago, what you had, really, was an industry of dreamers," Wagner said. Now dreams are turning into capitalistic realism. So who's buying? About half of sales so far have been to new pilots, good news to those hoping to attract new blood to the aviation world.