Sights and Sounds
With this year’s theme ‘First in Fun – Fast in Flight’, Sun ‘n Fun was attended by more than 200 000 pilots and enthusiasts. More than 3 500 volunteers worked to ensure the event’s success. About forty Royal Air Force Cadets from the southeast of England joined the ranks of volunteers. This was the 25th year the cadets have served at Sun ‘n Fun.
This year also marked the 25th anniversary of Sun ‘n Fun Radio, which was originally created to keep airshow attendees with hearing impairments informed. At the time, hearing aids were not compatible with public address systems.
In terms of international visitors, more than 400 Brazilians attended Sun ‘n Fun, while about 230 and 110 people travelled from Canada and England respectively.
To those who have attended the AirVenture at Oshkosh, Sun ‘n Fun would present a familiar atmosphere, albeit on a smaller scale. About 500 exhibitors had a wide variety of aircraft and related products on display, while long lines of visiting aircraft, many with tents pitched next to them, were parked at the airport. On the opening day of the show, one of the exhibiting companies, Piper Aircraft, unveiled its VFR (Visual Flight Rules) Piper Pilot 100 and IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) Pilot 100i aircraft, specifically designed to serve as training aircraft.
More than 300 forums and workshop sessions, covering subjects such as metal fabrication, avionics installations, fabric aircraft covering and safety wiring, were presented throughout the event. Recreational pilots were able to shop at the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Mall at Paradise City, an area dedicated to the fun side of flight. Before and after each daily airshow, LSAs, microlights, autogyros and Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft could be seen in action at Paradise City’s small grass runway.
In addition to the numerous commercial exhibits, there were dozens of warbirds and modern military aircraft on display. For example, a B-17F of the movie Memphis Belle was on static display and available for fun flights. Other warbirds included A-1 Skyraiders, T-28 Trojans, P-51 Mustangs, a B-25 Mitchell, a P-40 Warhawk, the world’s sole surviving XP-82 Twin Mustang and an F4U Corsair, to name a few. In terms modern military aircraft, enthusiasts were able to view aircraft such as F-35 Lightning IIs, F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighters, a C-17 Globemaster iii transport aircraft, a KC-135 Stratotanker, as well as an MV-22 Osprey. Various helicopters, such as an AH-64 Apache and CH-47G Chinook could also be seen.
Daily airshows primarily included aerobatic aircraft, many of which have performed at AirVenture, as well as special warbird displays. Heritage flights, with formations of older and modern military aircraft were quite popular, as were displays by the F-16 Viper Demo Team. However, it was the US Navy’s Blue Angels Demonstration Squadron that dominated the show. The team’s six F/A-18 Hornets performed stunning aerobatic manoeuvres in a breath-taking display of power and precision. Supplementing the daily airshows, two-night shows were held over the course of the week. The combination of formation aerobatics, pyrotechnics and fireworks is always something to behold.