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DeLand Municipal Airport is rapidly gaining stature as one of a handful of “go-to” annual show events in the sport-aviation business, bringing increasing numbers of national and international vendors and potential buyers to the local area.

Attendance at the third annual Sport Aviation Showcase this month was up almost 10 percent to 5,500 attendees. Several vendors were enthusiastic about the foot traffic at their booths or their exhibited aircraft.

“We made delivery of an aircraft on the showcase field Sunday morning,” enthused Shalom Confessor of SeaMax Aviation after the show officially closed.

John Callison of Innovator Brands chimed in, “We had a 15- to 20-percent increase in sales activity over the prior year.”

A new feature was added this year that was popular with most visitors who took the satisfaction survey conducted each of the three days of the show: Demonstration flights of about five minutes’ duration were scheduled at noon each day for more than an hour. Planes lined up one after the other, with a detailed running commentary about each plane’s specific features being offered on the flight line.

Showcase organizer and airport Sport Aviation Administrator Jana Filip was particularly pleased with the turnout of volunteers who make the showcase happen.

“We finished with 130 volunteers, a perfect number for us. Many exhibitors told me how professional was our organization and how central to that feeling was our volunteer crew expertise,” she said.

The Sport Aviation Showcase offered free Saturday admission to students, but only about 150 high-school and college students took advantage. Most of the students who did take advantage were from Aviation Explorer Post 747 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, and DeLand and Atlantic high schools’ aviation classes. Expanding the number of student visitors is a central goal for next year, Filip noted.

This was also the first time the showcase offered parking for used-plane sales. Six planes showed up, a good first effort, Filip said.

“My goal is for someone to bring his used aircraft and sell it the first day, then turn right around and buy his next new aircraft right off our showcase field!” she said.

Media coverage this year was way up, as well, with 68 press credentials issued, including many of the publications specializing in sport-aviation topics. Their presence and coverage of DeLand’s showcase should enhance interest in bringing more sport-aviation businesses to West Volusia, Filip believes.

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