The 41st annual SUN ‘n FUN fly-in is the books. It was hot, humid and an absolute blast. I’d say that even if I hadn’t gotten a ride on a B-25 — with four T-6s and four CJ-6s in tow —as part of a My MacDill Air Force Base support flight.
No longer just “Spring Break for Pilots,” SUN ‘n FUN is “Building a Better Future through Aviation.”
Everything the 20-person full-time team does at SUN ‘n FUN is with an eye on adding pilots to our rolls. SUN ‘n FUN is really just a big fundraiser that supports education opportunities — an effort made easier by recently retiring more than $2 million of debt over the past three years. Today, SUN ‘n FUN is debt free.
And if you haven’t been, you really should add it to your bucket list. Smaller than AirVenture, thankfully, SUN ‘n FUN — like Reno, the biggest little city in the world — is a great big little fly-in.
Want an example? At SUN ‘n FUN, a humble call for funds from SUN ‘n FUN Radio chairman David Shallbetter led to 15 benables (a bench/picnic table transformer) being built for this year’s fly-in.
“I hoped to get enough money to build six at $75 each,” says Shallbetter.
PilotMall bought three, plus wanted three of its own. Sennheiser bought two, Jeppesen donated one and numerous individuals stepped up to make it happen. Today, 12 benables adorn the huge wrap-around deck of SUN ‘n FUN Radio while another three beckon weary walkers in front of PilotMall.com’s store. Try doing that at AirVenture.
SUN ‘n FUN is a 176-acre year-round campus. It expands to 2,200 acres for the fly-in. The campground is covered with large trees festooned with Spanish Moss and copious shade. It makes for a quaint setting with great views of the main east/west runway. AirVenture’s Camp Scholler can’t claim that.
Recreational Aviation Foundation members put in a fire hub at a major intersection of the campground calling campers with coffee and donuts in the morning and campfires and s’mores in the evening. Hangar flying is an ever present undercurrent.
Forums, workshops and more than 500 vendors packed the grounds this year as well. Oh, and there were a lot of airplanes (of all stripes) as well.
If sweltering in the Florida heat isn’t your cup of tea, rest assured the 2016 edition moves back to its typically milder early April slot. Put April 5-10, 2016, on your calendar today.