2019 SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In and Expo is First in Fun – Fast in Flight!
March 26, 2019
Lakeland, Florida: Each year, there are thoughtful predictions from the regulars as to the theme for the upcoming SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo. When those who go reflecting back on the event’s 45 year history, they agree that one thing has made it the second largest aviation expo in the world – comradery. It’s the friendships, memories, and the experiences that make it special. This year’s theme of “First in Fun – Fast in Flight” celebrates the people that have formed the traditions, activities, and essence of the SUN ‘n FUN Fly-in.
No longer simply Spring Break for Pilots, SUN ‘n FUN has evolved into a true gem of Lakeland. More than just Florida’s largest annual convention, it is now the largest of over 90 fundraising events for the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE). Over 3500 volunteers donate their time, expertise, and sweat knowing their efforts will fund a scholarship for another high school student’s private pilot license, another 10-year old’s summer camp experience, or an exhibit in the award-winning museum preserving the legacy of aviation. The “How can I help you?” attitude of this volunteer corps makes the event’s 200,000 guests and 500+ exhibitors feel welcome and appreciated. Some just call it southern hospitality, but it’s obvious that those who donate their time and talents to the event truly enjoy their work experience and have fun.
From sunrise to long into the evening hours, there are countless ways to find the FUN in SUN ‘n FUN. One can spend time perusing 200+ acres of new aviation products and services from manufacturers like Cirrus, BOSE, and Lincoln Electric as well as distributors like Gulf Coast Avionics. There’s the Parts Exchange, Ladies Pavilion, Kid Zone, Drone Zone and more! On the airside, browse among hundreds of aircraft from every era, including Golden Age, Warbirds, Vintage Jets, Homebuilt, Ultralights, and Modern Military. After sunset, the fun is just getting started. You can cuddle up with your honey, enjoy some popcorn, and watch an aviation-based movie at Ace’s Flyin’ Flicks in the campground among friends. Or for some knee-slapping entertainment, checkout the Corn Roast Stage with nightly live music…and yes, their roasted corn is awesome.
Precision aerobatic flight is an awe-inspiring sight; it’s almost religion. Ask anyone that has attended SUN ‘n FUN, and they will immediately tell you their favorite airshow performer. The daily airshows consist of performers that push their aircraft to the limit, challenging the craft to match their elite personal skills. Airshow teams like the Phillips 66 Aerostars, GEICO Skytypers, and Aeroshell Aerobatic Team perform in symphonic unison, while individual demonstrations fill the sky with skill and daring from aerial artists like Patty Wagstaff, Greg Koontz and Michael Goulian. A list of all the performers and the airshow schedule can be found on the www.flysnf.org site.
Some fans will say that Warbirds are their favorite. The US Air Force Heritage Flight always stops crowds in place as past meets present with a vintage fighter flying alongside one from today’s military arsenal. This year, the Cavanaugh Flight Museum’s Vietnam-era reenactment will be performed for the first time, complete with explosions, flares, and gun-runs! For military lovers, the USAF F-16 Viper Demo team will be piercing the sky and the US Navy Blue Angels will demonstrate the pinnacle of aerobatic precision in their six F-18 Hornets.
The fun doesn’t end at sunset, not by a long shot! On Wednesday and Saturday, SUN ‘n FUN’s fan-fave night airshows will light the night with dramatic performances. The Paradigm Aerobatic Team adds a new twist to formation flight with a jaw-dropping display in their powered parachutes, and performers like Bob Carlton in his Sub-Sonex Microjet blaze through the sky leaving a comet’s tail of shimmering sparks. All night airshow performers possess special talents…but what about 60 drones? The Star Dance Spectacular debuts at SUN ‘n FUN and will dazzle the dusk, and on Saturday the show will close with a dramatic fireworks display.
Let’s not forget the 300+ forums on all things aviation, as well as hands-on workshops, youth workshops, seminars, museum tours, Veterans Plaza, …the list is endless. Guests are encouraged to make use of the SUN ‘n FUN MOTORVERSE mobile app to schedule, find, and enjoy all there is to offer throughout the 6-day event. The mobile app will also have opportunities to win prizes during the week so why not have even more fun?
Engaging, Educating and Accelerating the next generation of aerospace professionals is the mission of ACE. The Fly-In is a 1500-acre opportunity to do just that. Over 3,000 students from the Central Florida area have field trips to SUN ‘n FUN and are immersed in all things aviation by certified teachers and volunteers. Over 500 high school students will take part in an assembly and get up-front and personal with members of the Blue Angels, Viper Demo Team, and more. Aviation legends like Dick Cole will be in attendance and speaking. The learning opportunities for all ages are endless during the Fly-In at venues like Vintage Theatre, Victory’s Arsenal Theatre, Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum and more.
45 years running means an event is truly something special. So special that it draws visitors from over 80 countries each year to one of aviation’s most celebrated traditions. The shows, sights, activities, and celebrities are what brings a person to SUN ‘n FUN once, but it’s the culture and that famous comradery that draws them back each year. “First in Fun – Fast in Flight” – that’s SUN ‘n FUN!
About SUN ‘n Fun Fly-In, Inc.:
SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to preserve and enhance the future of flight through world-class events, inspiring and educating people of all ages. Year-round events, including the SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo, which is one of the world’s largest aviation events, raise funds for the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE). SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In annually raises over $2M for ACE enabling the delivery of STEM-related and aerospace education programs engaging over 35,000 local youth each year. Additionally, ACE manages and allocates over $445K/year in local aerospace scholarships. For more information, www.flysnf.org.
About Aerospace Center for Excellence, Inc.:
The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in STEM-related and aerospace education through its various learning centers, outreach programs, summer camps and scholarships aimed at preparing students for tomorrow’s aerospace challenges. Located on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus in Lakeland, Florida, the organization is known for its annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo fundraising event as well as the Aerospace Discovery Museum which is Florida’s Official Aviation Museum and Education Center. ACE is the world’s leader in producing licensed teenage private pilots and delivers youth programs that engage over 40,000 students a year. For more information, www.ACEedu.aero.
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