Coming up with a name for a new aviation event isn’t easy, especially one that truly highlights what the event will be and hasn’t been used by others. That was the dilemma facing the staff at DeLand Municipal Airport as they began planning their first annual sport aviation event.
After a couple of months of bouncing various terms around, Airport Manager John Eiff and Sport Aviation Administrator Jana Filip decided to hold a contest during the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. More than 30 entries were received – some very clever and witty like DeLand, DePlanes, DeShow – but in the end, the winning word was “Showcase,” offered by veteran Paradise City Commentator Michael McClellan.
Why Showcase? “Because that’s what the event will be—a showcase for airplanes and aviation stuff,” McClellan said, adding, “I thought about little kids in an old-time country store looking at candy inside a glass case … a showcase. Sometimes they come to buy and sometimes they only come to see what’s new and available. That’s what people do at a show like DeLand is planning. We are like those kids in the candy store! And the vendors are just like the candy storeowner; they’re proud of the products they offer. A show like DeLand will be a great opportunity for everyone to come together.”
McClellan continued, “In my conversations with Jana, it became clear the focus of the event will be to showcase what sport aviation has to offer … and what DeLand’s Sport Aviation Village has to offer. So why not just use the word that best describes what they’re going to do?”
Seems simple enough to us!
The first annual DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase will take place on November 3-5, 2016, immediately following NBAA 2016, which will take place just 30 miles down the road in Orlando, Florida. Filip said, “We hope that will make it easy for vendors, visitors, and the media to stop by to see what we have to offer in DeLand.”
She continued, “With this premier event, we’ll be prepared to host 40 indoor and 40 outdoor exhibitors, as we get our infrastructure developed for a larger show in years to come. We’re excited to build this show expressly to serve the sport aviation community. We’ll make it easy for companies to offer demo rides and for customers to visit with exhibitors. People enjoy air shows, but when you’re seriously shopping for an airplane, propeller, avionics, or whatever you need for your plane, you want as much face time with the companies as you can get. That’s what we’ll provide, along with a fun atmosphere for people to enjoy all that sport aviation offers.”
Providing information and educational opportunities also will be a significant part of the DeLand Sport Aviation Showcase, and the event area will include specifically designed forum and workshop venues. “Again, starting from the ground up will allow us to focus on serving the needs of presenters and those attending those sessions,” Filip said.
Michael McClellan has committed to serving as the commentator for the 2016 DeLand Showcase. He has regularly been the commentator in Paradise City for Sun ’n Fun as well as for the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. He prefers to be called a commentator as opposed to an announcer because, “An announcer tells you he has tomatoes for sale; a commentator makes you want a tomato to eat.”
McClellan is following on the tradition started by Vernon Peckham and the late Frank Beagle, who years ago recognized the need for someone to inform bystanders about the various aircraft that were flying in Paradise City and in the Ultralight/Light Plane Area at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. That requires McClellan keep up to date on all the new aircraft, engines, etc. so he can accurately describe who’s flying by. “Exhibitors love hearing the name of their aircraft broadcast; it helps bring visitors to their booths.”
McClellan began working with Vernon Peckham about 13 years ago. “I was just spending some time with Vernon, and he couldn’t see the airplanes lining up to take off, so I’d tell him what was coming down the line. He kept trying to get me to use the microphone but I didn’t want to. When Vernon decided to retire, he talked me into taking over.”
McClellan has been involved with light aviation since purchasing his first ultralight, a Pterodactyl, in 1987. Since then he’s flown a variety of machines and has the distinction of being the first person to earn a sport pilot certificate in the fixed-wing category. He currently flies a Jabiru-powered Sonex that he built about 11 years ago, which he flies from his private airstrip 7ga2 near Valdosta, Georgia. He’s also owned a Wittman Tailwind and a couple of Kolbs,
In addition to doing commentating at air shows, McClellan also does voiceover work for aviation-related products videos, but commentating is at the top of his list. “I enjoy doing the announcing and seeing people at the shows a few times a year. They become like family.” He is delighted that DeLand is creating the Sport Aviation Village and Showcase. “I’m happy to see that everyone from the top city officials on down to the folks working at the Airport are on board to create a great venue and event. I think it’s going to be a really good show for the recreational flying community.”
You can learn more about the DeLand Sport Aviation Village and Showcase online at www.sportaviationvillage.com. Or “like” DeLand Sport Aviation Village at Facebook.com/DeLandSportAviationVillage. Follow updates on Twitter (@DeLandSportAviationVillage) and Instagram (@DeLandSportAviationVillage).