One sure way to know if a show works is to observe vendor participation over a number of years. As this is my 14th year attending the Midwest LSA Expo, I can tell you 2023 represents a strong turnout. Companies come back year after year because it works to connect them with interested customers. Both sides end up with smiles.
In this article, I will give you a glimpse of what you can see if you can attend on Friday and Saturday. For those that cannot come, this will provide some taste of what happens in Mount Vernon, Illinois in early September. Hopefully, you can come in 2024.
Every image you see below shows that vendors did not just bring one airplane to test the market. In every case, these companies brought two, three, or even four aircraft to show. That’s very rare even at AirVenture or Sun ‘n Fun.
What this illustrates is that the Midwest LSA Expo (about an hour’s drive east of St. Louis) has become a standard bearer in the aviation calendar. Indeed, this is Midwest’s 15th event, tying the longest-running prior such show, which was the Sebring Sport Aviation Expo. After beginning these LSA-focused shows, Sebring concluded its 15-year run in 2019.
Congratulations to Chris Collins and his entire team of orange-shirted volunteers!
AeroTrek returned after a few year’s absence and they came in force. On opening day three aircraft had arrived and two more are expected. In addition, the company showed off their new open trailer which looks enormously easier to load and secure so long as you’re not trying to drive all the way across the country. For transportation in a local or regional area, this looks like a great choice with significantly lower costs.
Rob Rollison, the longtime importer of this very successful brand of modestly-priced LSA, has long maintained a very steady rate of business because his supplier overseas in Europe has maintained an prudent approach to business. This has helped that manufacturer remain very stable but it also means delivery times now reach about one year. Rob indicated most customers are willing to wait. It was good to see him back in Mt. Vernon with his handsome airplanes and new trailer.
For More Info — Aerotrek
Texas Aircraft appeared at Midwest some years back when their Colt LSA was a new entry in the game (#151 on our List). Now the company reports they just delivered the first batch of airplanes to a nearby flight school and they are excited about the future of Mosaic with their new four-seat Stallion model already flying in Brazil.
In some ways, the Texas company, which is directly associated with the Brazilian organization, is ahead of the game because Brazil’s ANAC has already created a very Mosaic-like regulation with minor differences. Approving that aircraft in their home country should make for a much easier entry to the U.S. market and this Hondo, Texas organization is ready to roll.
For More Info — Texas Aircraft
Bristell representative Piston Aviation reports running an active flight school operation. I plan to discuss this further with them to see how their flight school operates with the LSA of today. In the Mosaic preamble, FAA said extra weight was needed to make LSA into viable flight school aircraft, but I think they’re missing that these aircraft are already working well in that environment, assuming good flight school management and properly qualified instructors. (To be forthright, Piston also operates Piper Cherokees.)
Joe Ord’s Piston Aviation operates at Creve Coeur airport in the St. Louis area. They offer a wide range of flight instruction and list their prices right on their home page. You can tell by the nearby image that this company has a sense of style and they had handsome, custom-painted aircraft on display. Again you see the commitment people make to the Midwest LSA Expo if Piston will bring aircraft that could be in flight training to display for you at the show.
For More Info — Piston Aviation
Vashon brought two of their Ranger LSA to Midwest perhaps five years ago and they’ve been back every year since and they don’t come with just a single airplane. I hope you’re starting to get the message that these companies like this show and they don’t come here just to bond with their fellow vendors. They know they will meet people like you. Likewise, people that come to this event tend to be serious and ready to take their aviation interest to the next level.
While Vashon’s prices have risen slightly over the last couple years – along with virtually everything else you buy — they are still affordable to a wide range of pilots and have particular appeal to some by virtue of their use of a Continental O-200 powerplant. Lots of pilots and mechanics are familiar with that engine and, combined with a new and spacious airframe, the company is finding customers. Clearly, they find some of them right here in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.
For More Info — Vashon Aircraft
TL Sport Aircraft had two of their four models on display at Mt. Vernon. After a couple U.S. distributors that didn’t work as well as expected, Trey Murdaugh’s TL Sport Aircraft is bringing a more business-like approach. At Midwest LSA Expo he appropriately had on display a TL-3000 Sirius and an S-4 Sting. The latter (in an earlier model) was the #5 aircraft accepted by FAA as a Special LSA out of 158 now on our SLSA List.
However, Trey is also nicely positioned for Mosaic with his other two aircraft that did not travel to Mt. Vernon. One is the tandem-seating Stream, which I flew with him after Sun ‘n Fun 2022. That was a fine experience in a beautiful-flying aircraft. I look forward later this year to a flight in their side-by-side Mosaic-ready entry called Sparker that is the highest performing of their line. Of course, prices follow capability, so the Sirius or Sting may be the more affordable buy, but this company has got choices for you.
For More Info — TL Sport Aircraft
Zenith arrived with two of their popular Sport Pilot-eligible kit aircraft, Cruzer and Super Duty. Probably most readers of this website are aware that Zenith is the leading kit builder in the light aircraft space (as only one Van’s model can presently qualify as an LSA). This should surprise no one as these aircraft are highly proven, and the manufacturing of their kits has become quite sophisticated under the leadership of Sebastien Heintz.
The Mexico, Missouri based kit producer also hosts one of the largest events of its kind in the country, in fact, drawing even more people to it than the Midwest LSA Expo. Now in its 32nd year “Homecoming” is a must-go for any Zenith enthusiast. I’ve never been able to make it because it occurs right after the Midwest event but I hope many of you can and will attend. You can learn a lot at their event plus enjoy the camaraderie of others with similar interests.
For More Info — Zenith Aircraft
Magni Gyro rep’ Greg Gremminger brought two of his gyroplanes as he often has. Greg is one of those regulars that has made every Midwest event along with a handful of others. It helps that he’s based not far away, but this has proven to be a good event for him where he can give ramp-side talks about gyros to people that are interested. He’s done this for years and every time I’ve seen quite a collection of people listening intently as he describes his rotary-winged aircraft and how they fly.
A couple years ago my wife and I each took a flight with Greg and had a marvelous experience. I’m not qualified to fly gyroplanes solo, but I have learned from some experiences and I see the magic that so many enjoy. Greg was one of the original people to fight for 10 years asking FAA to finally allow fully-built gyroplanes. They wore him out without saying yes, but when Roy Beisswenger and I started our advocacy work, we took up the case again. Between his efforts and ours, I’m pleased that we will finally have factory-built gyros available for those enthusiasts.
For More Info — Magni Gyro USA
All this and more was available on opening day despite weather challenges to the east, holding up the arrival of some aircraft. BushCat is expecting two aircraft as is Jabiru. What I believe this list shows is that these companies are all willing to spend the money and take the time to bring multiple aircraft to the Midwest LSA Expo. One of the main reasons the show is popular and successful is the great ease of getting a demo flight in an airplane. Get on the schedule and when it’s your turn, it takes literally a few minutes to get airborne. Marvelous! Plus… entry to the show and parking are FREE.
Mosaic and More
I will have more on other aircraft that are at the show and other activities that I observe. In addition, the whole place is buzzing with talk of Mosaic, as you might expect a month and change after FAA dropped their new regulation on America.
I genuinely look forward to the question-and-answer session at the end of my two talks (Friday and Saturday at 11 AM). I’m pleased to give out what I believe is good information on the new proposed rule, but the most valuable interplay comes from pilots expressing their concerns and opinions. If you’re in the area, please join us. If you can’t make it. I will plan to video it and I’ll get that up as soon as I can.
Stay tuned for more from the Midwest LSA Expo 2023!