Is a Showcase an airshow? Or is it a trade show? Is this the same as an event once called the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase? To these questions, you could reply, “Who cares?” This year’s Aero Showcase displayed a worthy selection of handsome airplanes. What more do pilots want? Entry and parking were free. Amenities were good. Aero Showcase 2023 was like that fantasy where a rich friend with a collection of cool airplanes gets them all out for you to look at and perhaps fly. Sector-Specific Shows Interested pilots could and did take demo flights at DeLand 2023 in one of the aircraft for sale. This is a very easy and welcoming airport to such flight activity. Aero Affinity and Aero Showcase partner Doma Andreka took several prospects aloft in his Magnus Fusion 212. This is the lone LSA model that offers aerobatic capability (article), assuming you select the UL Power engine approved for inverted flight.
Sector-Specific ShowsInterested pilots could and did take demo flights at DeLand 2023 in one of the aircraft for sale. This is a very easy and welcoming airport to such flight activity. Aero Affinity and Aero Showcase partner Doma Andreka took several prospects aloft in his Magnus Fusion 212. This is the lone LSA model that offers aerobatic capability (article), assuming you select the UL Power engine approved for inverted flight. The DeLand ramp, out in front of the city's new Airport Management Center building, was well stocked with light aircraft in a wide range, albeit focused on LSA and light kit aircraft. All aircraft were either based at DeLand or are partnered in some way with Aero Affinity. In the aviation-active State of Florida, that helped produce a worthwhile flock of airplanes for people to come examine. Available aircraft varied from vintage Rans and Kitfox two-seat ultralights, an Extra 300, a Tecnam Twin, and a flock of beautiful LSA including Fusion, Aventura, VL3, BushCat, TL Sirius, Aventura, Searey, and Seamax. Visitors even got a close-up look at not one rare BD-5, but two of them, one with the same turbine engine used in the Composite FX Mosquito XET helicopter.
Exhibits and DemonstrationsA pair of Extra aerobatic aircraft put on a pair of displays. One was a large radio-controlled Extra that did a routine no human pilot could survive, I suspect. I'm always impressed with the skill of pilots standing still while their RC aircraft whirls around wildly. When it parked next to a full-size Extra, I found it worthy of a photo. The big Extra went aloft with co-organizer Alex Rolinski flying the SW 51 Mustang. Both pilots are clearly at one with their machine; each flew them impressively. Alex in particular delighted in high-speed low passes that redefined "low." All this went on while DeLand steadily transported groups of 10 or more skydivers per load using turbine-powered airplanes. This goes on like clockwork, multiple times per hour, all day long. DeLand is an active recreational airport. It makes for a fun backdrop for Aero Showcase, always presenting something to look at in the sky. Skydive DeLand is one of the busiest parachuting operations in the world, Indeed, this segment of aviation is so big at DeLand airport that a small industry exists comprised of 40 businesses employing 800 people… all for sky diving. Airport manager, John Eiff, is a longtime sky diver in addition to being a highly qualified pilot. For a different article, I interviewed John to learn his rather astounding record of achievement. Just some hints — He was one of the first to ever jump a "square" parachute. He has flown rock-and-roll stars in private jets. He has run multiple airport operations. He married Winnie, herself a highly qualified jumper who once ran a drop zone (as sky diving operations are often called). I cannot think of a better airport manager for DeLand. Somehow John keeps on top of everything happening at KDED. A specialty flight training outfit called Gator Flights Florida was present to tell folks about their tailwheel training and their floatplane rating program on Lake Tohopekaliga ("Lake Toho," the locals say) near Kissimmee, Florida. Gator Flights is a tailwheel and floatplane flight school operation that can help add those skills without the long wait associated with world-famous (and not far away) Jack Brown Seaplane Base. A number of flight demonstrations were staged, all while DJ-selected songs played on the ramp. A coffee truck, an ice cream truck, and a very-nearby full-service restaurant made a longer stay easy — as did proper indoor bathrooms in DeLand's shiny new HQ building.
How Did It Go?The measurement of many of these events is how many airplanes got bought or ordered. This is a hard number that can tell vendors and pilots alike if the show is worth their visit. I asked co-organizer Doma Andreka for a report. "We found eight serious customers looking to buy our products: two JMB Aircraft VL3s, two Magnus Fusion 212s, one Aventura seaplane, one Tecnam, and two pre-owned GA aircraft," Doma said. "Gator Flights sold five tailwheel endorsement packages and five seaplane rating packages during the show." Altogether, Doma thought they had attracted "about 1,000 visitors," resulting in several "nice one-on-one meetings plus numerous demo rides." Some other attendees believe the visitor count was lower but the sales and demo flight activity are what's really important to buyers and sellers. Aero Showcase is not trying to be the event that DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase was. That event, run by industry veteran Jana Filip and sponsored by the City of DeLand, intended to follow the successful 15-year run of the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo (2004-2019). DeLand's Sport Aviation Showcase ran four years (2015 to 2019) and was off to a fine start but like so many other events in 2020, it was scuttled by the Covid panic. It never returned. DeLand's Aero Showcase bears some resemblance to the Midwest LSA Expo in Mt. Vernon, Illinois (2008-2023, and planning on its ground-breaking 16th-annual show over September 5-6-7, 2024). In the new year ahead, I hope you will support efforts like Aero Showcase, Midwest LSA Expo, Sun 'n Fun's Paradise City light plane area and other LSA sector-specific events. Aero Showcase next year is already scheduled for October 18-19, 2024.
- Aero Showcase, event website
- Aero Affinity, a Deland aviation collaboration, contact info and content, on this website
- Aero Adventure, all contact info and content, on this website
- Magnus Aircraft by The Aviator Family, all contact info and content, on this website
- AeroSport, importer of Bushcat, all contact info and content, on this website
- Gator Flights Florida, flight instruction provider, company website
- DeLand Airport, city website