New LSA Mall Greets Sun ‘n Fun Visitors

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This year, when visitors walk through the gate onto the Sun ‘n Fun grounds, they don’t have far to go before they can start shopping for — or at least starting to dream about — their next airplane. Right inside the gate, 18 shiny new Light Sport Aircraft are arrayed, wingtip to wingtip, along the grassy lawn on either side of the main walkway. “We definitely hit a home run when we scored this location,” said Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, who organized the project. Visitors can quickly assess a wide variety of different airplanes — high-wing, low-wing, floats, taildraggers, and more — talk to the company representatives, and find out where to go on the field to find each company’s full-size exhibit. “It’s great for the customers, and it’s great for the manufacturers, too,” says Johnson. Although LSA sales have slowed a bit recently, as the national economy has stalled, airplanes at the Mall were selling, he said.

Johnson said he expects the LSA Mall to continue at that prime site at Sun ‘n Fun for the foreseeable future. He added that the LSA infrastructure nationwide is continuing to grow, and more sites are offering training and maintenance facilities. “Our goal is to have 300 places in the U.S. [for LSA training] by the time Cessna gets in the game, in 2009-2010,” he said.

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