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NAFI Sport Pilot Symposium Success Leads to Plans for Series

Heartened by the success of its first Sport Pilot Symposium for flight instructors, the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) plans to present additional sessions throughout the coming year. The inaugural program welcomed 44 attendees—mostly CFIs—at the October 29-30 event, held in conjunction with the first-ever LSA Expo at Sebring, Florida.

The goal of Sport Pilot Symposium was to expose seasoned flight instructors to the new world of light-sport aircraft. “Sport pilot offers flight instructors an enormous opportunity to expand their businesses,” said NAFI Executive Director Rusty Sachs. “Our symposium exposed the attendees to a wide variety of sport pilot experts, helping them learn how they can build their business in the new sport pilot/light-sport aircraft market. They also had opportunities to take demonstration flights in dozens of light-sport aircraft available on site.”

Presenting speakers appeared during the two morning sessions and included John and Martha King of the King Schools; Paul Hamilton, founder of Hamilton Training Systems and Adventure Productions; Jack Vandeventer, seasoned CFI and marketing expert; Bob Mackey of Falcon Insurance Agency; Carla Larsh, chair of the EAA Ultralight Council; Marvin Weaver, head of the FAA’s Light-Sport Aviation Branch in Oklahoma City; and Ed Downs, president of American Sport Flying and widely respected aviation writer. Afternoons provided time for demo flights.

Sachs explained the symposium’s unique “Trade-A-Flight” program, where attendees receive a coupon to exchange for a free demonstration flight from an ultralight instructor in their area. “The symposium attendee swaps the coupon to a hometown instructor for a flight,” he said. “The instructor then fills out the back of the coupon, mails it in, and gets a free NAFI membership.”

Future events will likely be held in conjunction with other major aviation events, perhaps EAA regional fly-ins. More information will be announced as plans develop.

Among the many favorable comments received about the symposium included the following:

  • “Presentations were great! I learned a lot about to varieties of Light Sport Aircraft.”
  • “Paul Hamilton’s videos are spectacular!”
  • “Thank you for including the flight experience, which was truly outstanding.”
  • “Jack Vandeventer’s brief on marketing showed me a lot I can do to bring students in the door.”
  • “I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing John and Martha King videos. It was great to see and hear them in person. Most of us were hungry to know the technical and regulatory details of the new program.”
  • “The Sport Pilot update session was so chock full of information, it could have been even longer!”
  • The hands-on opportunity to experience sport aviation in light-sport aircraft lured many CFIs to Sebring, but concrete discussions of the business aspects of sport aviation maintained their enthusiasm for two mornings. “Flying is matchless,” said one participant, “but learning new ways to share it with the world—and make money doing so—is a little bit of heaven!”


    NAFI Symposium attendees at a morning
    lecture session in Sebring, Florida.

    NAFI Executive Director Rusty Sachs shows
    symposium attendees a Trade-A Flight Coupon.