Last week was my first opportunity to visit the US Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, and I must say, I enjoyed it more than I would have expected. Yes, it is a bit of the beaten path, and it’s a long way to travel for many - but the show has an intimate feel that allows those truly shopping for an airplane, engine, or avionics to interact better with vendors. Imagine Oshkosh without the crowds of people trying to look at the same things you're trying to see, and you’ll get the feel.
Much smaller than Sun ‘n Fun or AirVenture, you might want to check the vendor list to make sure that the people you want to talk with are going to be there. If they are, it is probably the best one-on-one interaction you’ll find, short of going to the factory. Despite that Sebring is thought of as a Light Sport show, there were quite a few kit companies showing off airplanes that don’t fit in the category, including several new Super Cub class airplanes that were constantly showing off their STOL capability on the nearby runway.
You could easily do the Sebring show in a full day if you target what you’re looking for, and that might be hard to justify a trip for those who have to trek a long distance to get there. But if you want to see a head-to-head comparison of a number of airplanes (or avionics) in the same category, it might well be worth the the trip. And even if you’re not shopping, Sebring is a good place to check out future technologies making their public debut. I’m putting Sebring on my planning schedule for next year, and when it comes around I’ll take a close look at whose going to be there. There is simply no way to match the size of AirVenture, but quality time is important, and Sebring is a good place to get it.