Sunday, April 18, 2010

That's A Wrap!

Sun 'n Fun 2010 is history. Overcast skies and rain all day kept the crowds away -- in droves.  Still, it was a good show, with positive signs for the Light Sport Industry in the weeks and months ahead.
I'll be recapping highlights from the entire six days over the next several days; there were lots of cool events and gear I want to share with you.
The short tell: overall attendance by most exhibitor accounts seemed a bit light over the week, but several airframe manufacturers reported modest to brisk sales.
Generally, the consensus was one of guarded optimism.  Some makers like Arion (Lightning) and Piper (PiperSport) sold 7 or more airplanes each.  Others were happy with two or three.  And some long-time, well-established companies had great leads but no firm orders.
Of course, sales hyperbole is tempting to indulge in at a show: no one wants to admit to potential customers -- and especially the aviation media -- that they just spent thousands of dollars hoping to attract buyers and show the flag -- and have nothing to show for it.  It takes a lot of courage to hang in there in a down economy, and many of these folks have been running on fumes for some time now through the worst of it.
Nonetheless, as my tireless pal Dan Johnson tallied, sales were at least in the 20s and that's a good number in a recovering economy.
Likewise, the excellent placement of his LSA Mall, which was chock full of aircraft displayed side-by-side, brought thousands of people in direct contact with light sport flying.  I must have gone by the Mall 30 times during the show, and it was always busy with folks checking out these new planes they're hearing more and more about.
As in life, not every company rockets skyward; economies don't work that way.  But I spoke to enough people in the industry with smiles on their faces to give me a solid sense that we've flown out of the downdrafts and are climbing for clear blue skies again.

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