Fifty years after Sporty’s founder Hal Shevers began selling portable aviation radios from the trunk of his Studebaker, pilots from around the region flocked to the 170-employee company’s headquarters at Clermont County Airport in Batavia, Ohio, to celebrate the milestone.
Several thousand people attended the May 21 event under brilliantly sunny skies where they ate hot dogs and cake and honored Hal and Sandy Shevers and their varied and ongoing contributions to the aviation community.
AOPA President Craig Fuller praised Shevers as “a teacher at heart,” during a video tribute along with former AOPA President Phil Boyer, retired Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, and EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny.
Jeff Skiles, US Airways co-pilot for the 2009 “miracle on the Hudson” Airbus ditching and co-chairman of the EAA Young Eagles program, pointed out that more than 7,400 kids have followed up their introductory flights by taking the online academic courses that Sporty’s provides to them for free.
About 200 airplanes appeared at the event as well as 30 vendors. (Guests consumed more than 1,200 hot dogs and 800 pieces of birthday cake.)
Shevers is seldom at a loss for words. But he was nursing a bad case of laryngitis at the event and couldn’t speak. Sandy, his wife of 44 years, gave her own recollections of meeting Shevers, helping their fledgling business grow, and fostering Sporty’s legendary commitment to customer service.
Then, quoting remarks Hal had written for the occasion, she said that founding Sporty’s, creating jobs, and strengthening general aviation “has been a good ride—and it’s not over.”