For Immediate Release:
Lakeland, FL (September 6, 2018) – The Triple Tree Aerodrome has fast become a welcome destination for the Lakeland Aero Club returning now for the second time this year. Eight (8) members of the high school flying club are on their way to the 12th Annual Triple Tree Fly-In led by their President, Mike Zidziunas (aka Mike Z.) Earlier this year, the club flew their planes to the Youth Aviation Weekend hosted by Pat Hartness and his team of volunteers at Triple Tree. Layton Bracey is pilot-in-command for this trip and is flying the club’s 1953 Piper PA-18. At just 18 years old, Bracey is currently working on his commercial rating.
Joining the Lakeland Aero Club is SUN ‘n FUN’s Director of Business Development and Airshow Operations, Greg Gibson, flying SUN ‘n FUN’s 1941 Stearman. 7 members of the club will rotate for flight time with Bracey and Gibson. One member, Hunter Hallstrand, 17 years old, recently completed his first powered solo flight. Similar to other members, Hallstrand first soloed on a glider just a few months ago.
“This is tough for me” says Mike Z. “This is the first trip that I’ve not been in the air (with my members). I have complete confidence in our pilots and their capabilities but will have to do so from the ground this time.” The club’s second plane, a Piper PA-11, suffered unpredictable damage to its Continental C-85 engine that was detected after flying from Lakeland, FL to AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI last month. Damage to one of the cylinders grounded the airplane at AirVenture, and after a thorough inspection by the Lakeland Aero Club members and mechanics from Don’s Dream Engines, it was determined that the engine was in need of a complete overhaul. A fundraising campaign is underway to complete the overhaul and to return to pick up the plane that had to be left behind in Oshkosh.
The Lakeland Aero Club is the country’s largest high school flying club and proudly touts that it is the only club with its own grass strip right outside its hangar door that connects to an International Airport. Apart of the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), the club’s members range in age from 14 to 24 with the majority under 18 years old. The club works diligently adhering to its mission of providing opportunities of hands-on-experience in restoring, maintaining, and flying antique general aviation airplanes.
“The opportunity to fly with the members of the Lakeland Aero Club, especially in our Stearman, and share with them the excitement that I feel when I fly this plane is remarkable” says Gibson. “It also is a reminder that there are long-term implications why tremendous effort is expended to ensure our annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo is successful. The SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In is the biggest fundraising event for our ACE programs and its scholarships. It is also one of the reasons why we are so pleased to be able to attend the Triple Tree Fly-In and show our support of their programs just as they support ours”.
SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In and The Lakeland Aero Club are co-presenting a seminar during the Triple Tree Fly-In. Both Gibson and Mike Z. will present how the Aerospace Center for Excellence is addressing the critical need for getting young people engaged in aerospace activities that best prepare them for tomorrow’s challenges. “The Sky is Just the Beginning” – the Overview of the Aerospace Center for Excellence seminar is Saturday, September 9th at 9:00.
About Aerospace Center for Excellence:
The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that strives to provide aerospace-related educational opportunities to people of all ages through its programs and scholarships. 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 Aerospace Discovery, the Florida Air Museum. ACE is the world’s leader in producing licensed teenage private pilots and programs that touch over 30,000 students a year. For more information, www.flysnf.org.
About The Lakeland Aero Club:
The Lakeland Aero Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit high school flying club that teaches high school and college age students how to fly and restore antique airplanes. Members of the club have the ability to receive hands on experience in any aspect of aviation they so desire. Membership is available to any High School or College student within the ages of fourteen and twenty-four, who express an interest in aviation, are of good moral character, and are academically achieving. Members of the Lakeland Aero Club are primarily responsible for maintaining the club’s aircraft, maintaining the club’s facility, and maintaining the club’s reputation. The Lakeland Aero Club exists to provide an opportunity for local youth to get involved and make a future in aviation. For more information, www.lakelandaeroclub.org.
SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In Inc.