I've read a lot of happy-happy joy-joy reports on the Sebring LSA Expo in the past couple of days. This one really torqued me the wrong way, but explained a lot:
I've flown into Oshkosh three times, Sun 'n Fun three times, and many smaller LSA shows too many times to count for work. Two years ago I spent Friday and Saturday giving demo flights at Sebring from the time the gates opened til after they closed with no major problems; it was actually quite fun. But the 2012 Sebring Expo was by far the most dangerous fly-in event I have ever attended.
Many of the controllers were obviously not experienced in an airshow environment. As mentioned in the article above, they "honed their airshow skills" there, but there was just too much traffic for that kind of inexperience.
My worst encounter was being told by Ground to turn northbound onto the taxiway that doubled as a parallel runway for LSA traffic. I looked first, noting the LSA on short final coming straight at me, before telling him "Unable, traffic short final." I don't know about you, but that counts in my book as "a hitch." About 5 minutes later, as I held short of 18, somebody took off going the wrong way on 36 when multiple aircraft were on base and final for 18.
Those were just two of the many incursions and near-misses we witnessed. Many of them were due to pilots not knowing the flight procedures or flying sloppy patterns in both the demo flight pattern and the arrival procedure. After surviving a few demo flights, all we could do was stand there and watch the chaos from the booth. From our point of view, it was a miracle nobody died.
So, with all these happy articles coming out about how great the show was, you might decide to fly in there next year. If you do, READ THE NOTAM!! Read the arrival procedures, memorize them, and keep a lookout for traffic at ALL times in ALL directions. DO NOT follow controllers blindly; look for yourself! Remember what Mr. Martin said in the article: Sebring is an ATC TRAINING EVENT. Have an escape plan to exit the pattern if necessary. Brush up on your slow flight skills, because you WILL need them when you get behind the slower LSAs. I know this is basic knowledge for all fly-in arrivals, but I've never found it to be so critical as it was for this show. My past OSH and SNF arrivals were cakewalks compared to last weekend. I'm happy the controllers got their "adrenalin rush," they should've seen the view from the cockpit!
For the record, I did send an email to the Expo organizers. Haven't heard back yet.