Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo
Reported by Dan Linton
SUN 'n FUN 2013
For those of you that were not able to attend the event I've created a series of mini-articles that contain some facts and information on some of the companies, products, organizations and aircraft that I saw at the airshow. Hopefully this saves you the time looking things up. This could be helpful for those of you who did attended and want to learn a little more about things you saw. This only provides you with my view of the event, but feel free to treat it as your own little mini-tour. It's written it in a format so you can jump to your favorite parts using the drop down box or read the whole thing; it's entirely up to you.
This year was the 39th annual Sun 'n Fun (SNF) International Fly-In & Expo located at the Lakeland Linder Airport (KLAL) in Florida. The SNF campus is open year round and is home to the Florida Air Museum, Florida's official aviation museum and education center. You'll find aircraft rental facilities, restoration projects, educational workshops and programs, gift shop and a full schedule every month of events including Bonanza & Baron Pilot Training, EAA Chapter Fly-In's, CAP Check Pilot Schools, Cessna and Cirrus Proficiency Programs and as well as car and bike shows. They also host five days of endless TOP GUN Competition celebrating 25 years of R/C Excellence.
About Sun 'n Fun
What began as a small group of dedicated aviation enthusiasts in 1975 has now turned into the second largest event of its kind. Thirty-two acres supporting more than 4,000 airplanes, over 500 commercial exhibitors (I counted 465 this year) and many educational forums and workshops during the event. Through the day different airshows were scheduled such as aerobatic performances, WWII bombing reenactments in restored vintage warbirds, and showcase flights that would do trips through the traffic pattern. On Friday there was the only one of its kind in the world - "Air Show at Night".
This was the first time my wife and I had attended the Sun 'n Fun event, and we both thought it was well worth attending. We met friends from FlightSim.Com, watched some airshows, flew some state-of-the-art flight simulators and meet some icons of the aviation world. It was such a large event I had concerns about finding everything and knowing where to be for special events. Before arriving I downloaded the Official SNF 2013 Phone App. This easy to use application included maps, the complete exhibit list, airshow hours, SNF Radio, fly-in information, warbird arrivals, schedules for performers, evening programs and movies, and both conventional and aerial satellite maps showing the layout where exhibitor was located.
For those of you more comfortable with the information in booklet form, you were provided with a thirty-six page "Info Guide" and fold-out map at the admissions center when you purchase your tickets.
Some of the same information was provided in a newspaper called "SNF Today" that was produced daily. This publication had been contracted by Sun 'n Fun through their service provider General Aviation News. It included some great articles. Hope you didn't miss the headlines "SNF Baby Earns Private Ticket" in Friday's issue. It was about Logan Honea who has been to every SNF event since he was born. Just last week, at age 17 he received his private ticket. If you missed that story, you can read about him or other great articles since each is posted on the General Aviation News web site!
The SNF campus was sectioned off in different areas for the event. These major areas consisted of the Campgrounds, Paradise City, Kid Zone, Nature Trail, Aircraft Auctions, Veterans Plaza, Trade-A-Plane Hangar, Food Courts, Light Sport Aviation (LSA), Warbirds, Vintage, Seaplanes, and Homebuilt aircraft. Bordering "Airshow Central" was the preferred airshow seating, announcer's stand, and judge's area. Hundreds of exhibits where sectioned off into north, southeast, and southwest exhibit areas.
KLAL has four runways that I could see on the map, 9/27, 5/23, a 1400 foot light plane grass strip, with another grass strip being used between runway 9/27 and the taxiway Delta. If you watch some of the YouTube videos, like "Bob Belville and Jason Pritchards Mooney Arrival at Sun 'n Fun 2013", you'll notice that even some taxiways, like Papa, Foxtrot, Delta, Bravo, and Echo were used as runways to handle all the traffic coming into the event.
Some nights on the first floor of the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA) building, you could join others to watch movies such as Air Force One, October Sky, Honor Flight, and A View From The Top. The CFAA building during the day was typically used for the aviation forums and workshops.