By VANESSA WELCH
MT. VERNON — Anticipation is mounting for the first Light Sport Aircraft Expo to be held in less than two months at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport.
“We’re all really proud — we’ve had a hardworking group of volunteers,” Airport Manager Chris Collins said Tuesday night during the Airport Authority board meeting. “They’re making the contacts and we’re forming committees for tasks like aircraft parking and air traffic control. The things that were just a dream nine months ago are now starting to happen.”
Collins said the Expo, which will be held Oct. 1 through 3, has been a joint effort between the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, City of Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County Development Corporation and Mt. Vernon Outland Airport. So far, 37 of the 47 aircraft slots have been filled, and about 15 exhibitors have signed on board, according to Collins.
An article that appeared in the August/September 2009 edition of Midwest Flyer Magazine will raise more awareness for the event, Collins noted, along with marketing materials which have already been published or distributed.
Airport Board Chairman Mike Ancona said the event has “tremendous potential” and informed the board the popularity of light-sport aircraft, as demonstrated by Eric Evans of Evans Aviation through selling more than 10 JABIRU aircraft, will benefit the airport and community.
“That’s impressive and it’s brought a sense of awareness to the airport about light-sport aircraft that I think maybe we weren’t paying real close attention to before,” Ancona said. ... “We are now the premiere airport in the Midwest for light-sport aviation, and that’s not overstated at all.”
During the meeting, Lt. Col. R.D. White informed the board the Jefferson County Flying Club is holding a meeting Aug. 18 to seek interest for a sportsman aircraft recreational and training center. The purpose of the center is to establish a program for those interested in becoming pilots “to be trained and fly at a price they can afford.” The non-profit organization currently owns a Cessna 150 and hopes to add a JABIRU if more members join.
“Chief among the advantages is it starts people flying young and keeps them flying,” White said of light-sport aircraft. “The FAA has dropped some of their stringent regulations on this type of aircraft and this type of flying and it’s going to make it more amiable to a lot of people.”
White noted light-sport aircraft is “fairly easily flown” and has the advantage of moving “fairly fast.” A driver’s license is required to fly, according to White.
“The airport, as everybody knows, has become a leader in Southern Illinois of aviation,” White said. “This fact is due to the diligence and the teamwork that has come together at the airport.”
The informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport following the monthly EAA meeting. For more information you may contact Lyle Endicott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other business, the board:
Approved the low bid from Southern Illinois Tile & Carpet Supply of $31,438.46 for installation of new carpet and tile in the Koziara Terminal. A bid of $1,403.19 for logo work from Wild Tile by Nelson Arts was also approved;
Approved runway sign panel replacement;
Discussed roof repairs to the Fixed Base Operations; and
Approved prevailing wage rates.