SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo - March 31 - April 5, 2020

Exhibits 2018-05-09T17:13:47+00:00


Buehler Aerospace Restoration Center

**This building is staffed fully by volunteers and hours may vary, please call in advance if you wish to verify it will be open the day you plan to visit. **

This 8,000 square–foot facility, located adjacent to Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum at SUN ‘n FUN, houses SUN ‘n FUN’s year–round aircraft restoration activities. The facility was made possible by a $300,000 grant from The Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, with additional support from a State of Florida Cultural Facilities and Historical Grant, and opened in April 2006.

The Buehler Trust was established in 1984 to perpetuate the memory of Emil Buehler and his commitment to aviation science and technology. A German immigrant to the United States, Buehler was a pioneer in aeronautics as well as a designer of buildings. He was actively involved in many of the significant aviation events that took place in New Jersey in the late 1920s and early 1930s. His involvement in aviation eventually included funding of a wind tunnel for testing space vehicles that became known as the Emil Buehler Mach 3 wind tunnel.

Examples of noteworthy restoration projects previously completed by SUN ‘n FUN volunteers and staff include:

  • US Navy1953 Convair F2Y Sea Dart
  • US Navy 1954 Lockheed XFV Vertical Riser
  • Jupiter Rocket
  • A 1936 Aeronca LB to airworthy condition
  • 1941 Porterfield Collegiate
  • 7/8-scale replica of a 1918 British SE5A fighter-scout biplane that now hangs in the Gene Strickland Terminal at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
  • J-31, America’s First Jet Engine – donated from EAA
  • Pitts Special, donated by Bruce Dunham

Current projects include restoration of the Iconic Sunshine Clipper and support in conversion of a Boeing 727 donated by FedEx into our Piedmont Aerospace Experience – an interactive classroom that will be available for use by the Aerospace Center for Excellence, Central Florida Aviation Academy, Traviss Career Center and Polk State student aviation programs.


Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum is fortunate to have had many different examples of aircraft donated by individuals and organizations for display. To date our collection includes a variety of homebuilt, experimental, aerobatic, commercial and military aircraft.

The following aircraft are currently on display at Aerospace Discovery:


USAF T-33 Thunderbird
USN F-14 Tomcat
USN Convair F2Y Sea Dart
USN Lockheed XFV


2010 Piper Jet
Cirrus VK-30
FedEx Boeing 727

Homebuilt, Experimental, or Aerobatic

1913 Benoist XIV
1913 Laird Baby Biplane (Replica)
1926 Ford Fliver
1929 Pietenpol
1930 Little Rocket
1930 Woody Pusher
1934 Aeronca C-3 Collegiate
1934 Heath Parasol
1943 Red Barron Stearman
1951 Lovings Love
1962 Bowers Fly Baby
1971 Wittman Tailwind
1972 Brokaw Bullet
1972 Pitts Special S-1C
1975 Emeraude 1975 VP-1 Volksplane
1976 Whitman Chief Oshkosh
1979 Flying Flea
1986 BD-5B
1989 Quickie Q-1
1994 Anglin Space Walker II
RANDS S-19 Ultralight

Aerospace Attic Research Library

The Aeropsace Attic is an Aviation Research Library, located on the 2nd floor of Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum is a repository for all forms of aviation literature. These include magazines, books, manuals, micro film/fiche, videotapes, photographs, slides, art work and clip art.

Current inventory includes approximately 5,600 books and manuals, close to 5,000 slides, in excess of 33,000 magazines and over 15,000 photographs. All of these materials are available to anyone who desires to spend some time with us at the Aerospace Attic Reseach Library.

Reference materials cover many aircraft from A (the AAC model 90) to Z (the Zogling PH 1) and ranging in date from prior to WW I to the present. In addition, most aviation-related fields are covered in our ever-expanding collection; i.e. navigation, weather, shop practices, personalities, engines, etc.

The aerospace attic is available for use by appointment only.

For more information or to make arrangements to visit our aerospace attic, please call 863-644-2431.

Florida Aviation Hall of Fame

Developed in partnership with the Florida Aviation Historical Society (FAHS)
The Florida Aviation Hall of Fame is the brainchild of the late Jacksonville Chapter of the FAHS.

The Hall of Fame is under the direction of a Selection Committee of up to eleven members that are Aviation historians from throughout the State. Prior to their voting, a straw vote of aviation enthusiasts is conducted to give them voluntary non-binding guidance. The selection committee voting is then forwarded to the Hall of Fame at Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Aviation Museum. Each year successful candidates are installed in a ceremony held at the museum during the annual SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In.

The 2015 inductees were announced to be Billy Henderson, Merian Cooper and Howard “Scrappy” Johnson.

If you would like to get additional information on submitting candidate names, please write to:

P.O. Box 127
Indian Rocks Beach, FL, 33785

or e-mail Warren Brown:

Howard Hughes Personal Aviation Collection

In June, 1986, the Florida Air Museum (then the SUN ‘n FUN Air Museum) took proud possession of more than 180 crates and boxes of Howard Hughes aviation memorabilia, including a 14-foot model of the Spruce Goose, Hughes’ leather flying suits, racing trophies, books, manuals, maps, scrapbooks, and personal memorabilia were included.

951d8738-5738-45ae-a4a7-aee6001473e1The museum prevailed over such institutions as UCLA, Embry Riddle and the University of Southern California for the collection. The quest for the collection, which started in 1994, came to fruition in January, 1996, when Vernon Olson, Sr. Vice President of the Hughes Corporation paid his second visit to the Museum. Olson appreciated the fact that the Museum would make the collection accessible to the public. He also noted that Howard Hughes visited Florida many times and was enamored with the flying boats he found. Hughes’ close associate, Al Lodwick, who helped plan his trip around the world in1938, had his base of operations in Lakeland and ran the Lodwick School of Aviation at Lodwick Field, now the site of Joker Marchant Stadium.

The Hughes collection contains memorabilia from several facets of Hughes life including the 65 movies he directed or had a major role in producing. “Hell’s Angels” is probably the most famous of these, at least among aviators.

Another phase of Hughes life and artifacts concern the four aircraft he built; the HK-1 nefariously called the “Spruce Goose”; the H-1 racer with which he set closed course and cross-country speed records; the D-2 bomber which, though aerodynamically advanced, failed to interest the military; and the XF-11 which crashed. During his recovery from injuries sustained in the crash Hughes was inspired to develop the modern, adjustable, hospital bed. Large wind tunnel models of all four aircraft are on display and contain additional wings and airfoil sections.

A third facet of Hughes career was his around the world flight in 1938. The flight created media frenzy comparable to that of Charles Lindbergh’s flight and man’s first landing on the moon. Many items in the collection lend credence to this major world event. A fourth group of artifacts record many of the business details of Hughes’ life and includes samples of his personal notes, business dealings, and specific projects not universally known. Objects in this exhibit present Hughes as a designer, test pilot, movie producer and entrepreneur.

Artifacts are on display to the public on a rotating basis, and the full archives are available upon request for research purposes by qualified scholars. The Museum is currently seeking much-needed funding for vital ongoing preservation and cataloging work in order to enhance this significant part of American history.

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Innovations and Pioneers


Learn the history of aeronautical navigation and exactly where you can go on “one tank” in an airplane – the islands are closer than you think!
Artifacts of interest include:

  • A WWII Balkans US Cloth Escape Map
  • 1950’s Homemade Navigational Tools
  • Sohio and Esso Flight Planning Card
  • Snyder Aircraft Corporation – Cross Country Kit including Aero Compass Protractor and Aero Flight Calculator manufactured by Aero Products Corporation, 1943.
  • Navtronic 1701 Navigation Calculator


This exhibit is truly unique to Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum and could not have been completed without our team of dedicated volunteers.

The engines on display show the innovations (something new) that have occurred over the last 100 years.

The Florida Air Museum’s Innovations in Propulsion exhibit starts with Bleriot’s flight across the English Channel with Anzani’s three cylinder radial engine in 1909 and ends with the Mach 5 hypersonic engine. The story of that fabulous growth in science, engineering, manufacturing and flight resides in the fifteen engines displayed here.

Frank Klatt, Retired Aerospace Engineer, 2015

Many of these engines have unique stories on how they came to be in our collection with one having been found in a salvage yard and another found and driven over 1,000 miles from Wisconsin to Florida while on vacation. Some have even been restored with the assistance of student volunteers.

Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum is proud to house such a unique and educational display. You will not find such a diverse collection of engines under one roof at any other location.

Engines on Display:

  • 1905 Anzani Three Cylinder
  • 1930 Continetal 670
  • Ranger L440
  • 1953 Lycoming 320
  • Allison V-1710
  • Pratt & Whitney 4360
  • Wright Aeronautical 3350
  • Jupiter Liquid Rocket Engine
  • Little Joe Escape Rocket
  • J-31 (America’s First Jet Engine)
  • J-33
  • Ion Engine Spacecraft Power (Currently powering the Dawn Spacecraft)
  • Allison Model 250 Turboprop
  • General Electric TF-34
  • Hypersonic Ram Jet


Have you ever wondered what it was like to fly at Kitty Hawk like the Wright Brothers, or perhaps how Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic? Encounter letters, objects and photographs unique to these experiences as well as trophies from Florida’s own pioneer legend, Pete Sones. Become a pioneer yourself as you complete the checklist and take control of our King Air Twin Simulator.

Significant Artifacts on Display:

    • Lindy: The New Flying Game, published in 1927 by Parker Brothers, Inc. A game inspired by Lindbergh’s flight to Paris. Game play simulates a race between aviators and the object is to be the first to score 3200 miles.

60th Anniversary commemorative stamp collection of the Lindbergh Flight, encased in a shadow box. Stamps included are from the Maldives, Togo, Dijoubuti, Liberia, Nicaragua and Grenada.

  • Reproduction of page 1 of a 5 page letter from Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute. The opening paragraph reads:“For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life. I have been trying to arrange my affairs in such a way that I can devote my entire time for a few months to experiment in this field.”
  • Portrait of Amelia Earhart signed by her and dedicated to David Layman.


The Golden Age of Air Racing, Howie Keefe and his P-51 Miss America and air show legend, Bob Hoover are all featured here. Take your turn and experience the thrill of an air race first hand in our four person air racing station!

Artifacts on display include:

  • Eagle Scout Badge earned by Howie Keefe in 1936 with Troop #22 in Glencoe, Illinois.
  • Flight suits worn by Howie Keefe and Bob Hoover
  • Certificate acknowledging Howie Keefes speed record for flight between Los Angeles and Washington D.C., set in his P-51 on May 27, 1972
  • Thompson Trophies won by Roger Don Rae for a 3rd place finish in the National Air Races in 1936

Discovery Zone

An inquiry based exhibition where children and adults can manipulate objects and test their knowledge to develop a better understanding on how air and space craft fly. A coloring station is also available in this area for our smallest pilots!

Object based activities include:

  • Can you survive in space?
  • How do you make an electrical circuit?
  • What is the difference between fixed and a variable pitch propeller?
  • What is the difference between YAW, PITCH and ROLL?
  • How do you calculate fuel, passengers and baggage to balance an aircraft?
  • What are the components of a flight physical?
  • How do you tell time across different time zones?

Florida Aerospace Timeline

Browse the information and discover how Florida went from Barnstormers to Boeing and the role specific individuals have played in developing our rich Aerospace Community.
Our Florida Aerospace Timeline will allow you to interact with and study some of the events unique to aviation history in the state of Florida. The exhibit space provides a wealth of information on airports in Florida, the history of commercial airlines in the state of Florida, and the presence of military aviation in Lakeland and the state.

…Did you know?…

… that Al Lodwick’s Lakeland School of Aeronautics trained 1,327 British Royal Air Force Pilots in October of 1942…

…that Ocala, Florida is home to Jumbolair, the worlds largest FAA licensed, lighted and paved, private airport where residents can taxi down a 1.4 mile runway with direct accessibility from their home…

…Four of Florida’s airports are among the top 30 busiest in the United States and the Orlando and Miami airports are amont the top 40 busiest in the world…

…In 2013 the Florida State Board of Education approved a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Sciences for Polk State College…

…On October 19th, 1927 Pan Am made its first flight from Key West, to Havana…

…In 1971 Eastern Airlines was named the “official airline” for Walt Disney World…

…Florida’s earliest flying club, The Orlando Flying Club, was formed in 1917…

Find these facts and more as you browse the timeline!!