SUN 'n FUN is Much More Than a Great Air Show5:13 PM
This week, the aviation family has been drawn to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (KLAL) in Florida for the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-in and Expo, a huge event that kicks off the air show season each year. As I watched the happenings from 2190.8 nautical miles way here in Oregon, it appeared that perfect weather allowed large crowds to enjoy every second of "Spring Break for Pilots."
Social media has been buzzing all week with real-time updates from the show. What struck me though was not the awesome air shows, the exhibitors selling the latest and greatest aviation stuff, or the many fine #avgeeks that inhabit Camp Radioactive or volunteer at SUN 'n FUN Radio. Yes, these are all elements that make SUN 'n FUN a fantastic show, but what stands out for me is the year-long work so many people do on and around the SUN 'n FUN campus that contributes greatly to the overall aviation community.
To list all the great things happening throughout the year at SUN 'n FUN would take 10,000 words. So allow me to pare that down to some of the highlights:
SUN ‘n FUN and the Florida Air Museum are both 501(c)3 corporations, with a mission statement focused on developing the next generation of aerospace professionals. As of March 2015, over 100 scholarships valued at $400,000 have been presented through the Aerospace Center for Excellence. The A.C.E. complex is made up of 11 buildings and a Boeing 727 Classroom. Highlights of A.C.E. include Aerospace Discovery, the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, Florida Aerospace Historical Annex, Aerospace Opportunity Center, Buehler Aerospace Restoration Skills Center, Piedmont Aerospace Experience, Crossfield Aerospace Center, Piedmont Aerospace Lab, the Tom Davis Aerospace Education Center, Aerospace Pavilion and the Aerospace Enterprise Center.
The next time you are in a conversation and someone mentions all the important work that the other big acronym groups do, make sure to tell them about SUN 'n FUN, the educational campus, not the air show. And if you need to see the future of aviation, stop by KLAL most any day, and walk in just about any direction. It will only be a few steps before you run into the best and brightest young aviators.
Be nice to them too, because they'll be running our world in a few years.