by Jim Bildilli
Photos by Chris Bildilli
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine (online) – December 2020/January 2021 issue
If you attended the Midwest Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Expo at Mt. Vernon-Outland Airport (MVN) in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, September 10-12, 2020, you were probably updated on the latest and greatest happenings in the LSA world and picked up some WINGS credits in the process. As usual, in the Midwest, the weather can either make or break an outdoor event. However, it appeared that only those pilots 50 miles or more north and northwest of the airport were “weathered out.” Those who drove to the expo with campers enjoyed a large camping area with electrical service provided. Those who are experienced with fly-in camping had adequate room to pitch their tents. Portable restrooms were provided.
It’s always hard to estimate the attendance, but best guesses put it at around 700 for the entire three-day event. The registration roster indicated that there were attendees from 30 states and 35 exhibitors.
Airport director, Chris Collins, said the Mt. Vernon Airport Authority has sponsored the event for 12 consecutive years. The authority is so totally committed that four of its board members could be seen assisting staffers, volunteers and attendees to ensure that things went off without a hitch…and that’s what you call support!
Early on, it was unknown whether or not all of the Covid-19 rules and restrictions would affect the show, but with nearly every other aviation event and seminar cancelled for 2020, the board gambled and forged ahead. Attendees found that all of the safeguards that the state and federal government had either required or recommended were followed. Signs with regard to “social distancing” were observed not only on the ramp, but in the seminars and at the various vendor booths. Bottles of hand sanitizer were plentiful in all areas and the only food being served was in the restaurant and at individual camping sites. The vast expanse of the aircraft parking area made social distancing easily attainable. Had Covid-19 not occurred, there would have been a pig roast and band on Thursday evening, but again, that had to be cancelled, so the pig received a Covid-19 pardon!
As far as seminars were concerned, there was something for everyone. On Thursday, a presentation on Special Use Airspace and LSA operations was given by Steve Willis of local EAA Chapter 1155. Hank Konzelmann and his son, Sam, of “Aerial Adventures,” followed with a presentation on flight planning for gyroplanes for extended cross-country flights. The Konzelmanns fly a tandem Magni gyroplane based in Festus, Missouri.
Friday’s seminars included presentations by Bob McDaniel on keeping aircraft maintenance records, Brett Lawton from Leading Edge Airfoils on flying with Rotax engines, and Dan Johnson, President of the Light Aircraft & Manufacturers Association (LAMA), spoke about the changes to the LSA rules. Johnson’s presentation is a must-see and can be viewed on the following link: https://youtu.be/nbBv7ifoWOg
Saturday’s presentations started with Scott Rose of Charitable Medical Flights on how pilots can become involved with the organization. Following Rose’s presentation was Steve Goetz, who made two one-hour presentations on preparing for the Sport and Private Pilot check-rides.
The vendors were pleased at the turnout, even though the weather and Covid-19 concerns affected overall attendance. Some have exhibited at the LSA Expo for all 12 years. Hopefully, next year Covid-19 will be ancient history, and everyone will be able to ditch their masks, and all of the current restrictions on public events will be lifted.