The 40th Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo presented by Visit Florida and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association was held April 1-6, 2014. Staff and volunteers offered southern hospitality to an estimated 200,000 guests, airshow performers, exhibitors, sponsors, partners, students, educators, and their guests. Foreign visitors represented 10% of the traffic from all 50 of the United States, 2 U.S. Territories, the District of Columbia and an estimated 77 foreign countries.
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National and International Media was represented throughout the week as 530 professionals were credentialed from 17countries. Nearly 9,000 cars in the parking lot on Saturday alone gave staff and volunteers a new challenge for 2015 as they work to make exiting the grounds easier. Nearly 3,000 volunteers are directly responsible for the design and implementation of the annual Fly-In event. Aircraft arrival and departure, daily and evening air shows, food service, camping, exhibits, hospitality, entertainment, clean-up, security and even emergency response were handled with ease under sunny skies and, most importantly surrounded by no accidents, by an experienced crew of committed individuals who continue to receive high praise for a job well done.
A majority of the 489 exhibitors renting 709 spaces presented new aviation products and services to the guests at SUN ‘n FUN. Over 300 individuals participated in SUN ‘n FUN’s first aviation job fair. (Staff is working on ways to entice more aviation employers and aviation applicants by offering a phone booth where interview attire can be exchanged for flip-flops and shorts for applicants to relax and explore the rest of the Fly-In!).
A highlight of the week was a 2.5 hour visit from Florida’s Governor Rick Scott. It was the first formally scheduled visit from a Florida Governor in the 40 year history of the event. Governor Scott had an opportunity to interact with visitors as well as observe the significant economic impact offered to the State of Florida by the event. 9,300 aircraft movements for the week included arrival of the U.S. Navy’s Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. Maneuvers were enjoyed by all in preparation for daily shows offered Friday, Saturday and Sunday by the expert pilots in tight formation. Light Sport planes arrived and departed over the parking lot that entertained guests coming and going throughout each day. The largest aircraft parking requirement at any event was recorded photographically at the 2014 event. Photographs on the SUN ‘n FUN Facebook and home web pages are available for re-use using photographer credits. The “Splash In” event at Fantasy of Flight experienced a high level of aircraft involvement as more than 50 pilots performed and/or competed in one day of activity.
A newly branded learning environment created on the SUN ‘n FUN campus was unveiled in 2014. Introduced as the Aerospace Center for Excellence, the new STEM education facilities with classroom extensions welcomed commercial, aviation, student and spectator communities. A Boeing 727 donated by FedEx that is becoming a live classroom was made available for walkthroughs throughout the week. Cadets from SUN ‘n FUN’s Central Florida Aerospace Academy as well as education leaders in Polk County were on hand to welcome JetBlue as an education partner when they arrived from New York City with 165 students and teachers (and a check in the amount of $25,000 to augment the Polk State College A&P program on the SUN ‘n FUN campus).
The Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo is the major fund-raising event on the campus. All proceeds are used to support STEM education programs offered year round. “A Brighter Future through Aviation”, a new promotional video released at the 1st Annual Dinner with Legends fund raising event, can be found at www.sun-n-fun.org. As winners of an aviation essay contest, 10 Project Stratos students were hosted throughout the week by corporate sponsors and awarded Nikon products for their outstanding performance. Each student was invited to host a “Legend” entitling them to memories beyond their years.
Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum, the State of Florida’s official aviation museum and education center, has been revitalized with interactive learning stations incorporating the rich history found in the facility. A series of lectures and presentations was held during the fly-in. Student tours hosted more than 1,700 students and teachers from Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts and Norway.
In excess of 7,000 students of all ages attended forums and workshops conducted by SUN ‘n FUN volunteers, FAA National Safety Center staff and exhibitors on the grounds. Nearly 3100 guests participated in hands-on learning experiences at 60 aircraft construction, design and maintenance discipline worksites. 13 professionals received re-certification required for on-going employment. A special thanks to the aviation veterans offering mentoring and technique skills throughout the week!
More than 800 students from Polk and neighboring counties formed the audience for the inaugural Jet Team Assembly in theAerospace Pavilion. Members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels discussed their training and professions. Speakers included pilots and mechanics as well as team physicians. A commitment to excellence was reinforced by officers and enlisted personnel as students were encouraged to soar to new heights in the career goals.
Click here for more information from the 40th Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo Souvenir Program Book. Did you know there are 7 educational structures at the Aerospace Center for Excellence? Do you know how buildings on the campus were named? Read the Project Stratos essays. Have you heard about the students who have been licensed as pilots? It’s all there…and more.
Make plans now to join us on the campus for one of our round activities like the Hangar Door Canteen, When Pigs Fly South, Wings ‘n Things, Destination Aviation, STEMtastics™, Classroom to the Sky or Lecture Series Fly-Ins. And, mark your calendar for Florida’s largest annual convention, the 41st Annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo, April 21-26, 2015. The Lakeland Linder Regional Airport will once again become the busiest airport in the world!