The skies over Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (KLAL) opened up with a torrential downpour as Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo began this morning. But the gray skies didn’t stop Sun ‘n Fun president John “Lites” Leenhouts from smiling. Leenhouts said presale tickets are at the highest they’ve ever been and the organization was forced to open a new area for camping as the main area was filled to capacity. The showgrounds have been improved, giving it a cleaner look.
The show might see lower numbers for on-site ticket sales, however, as the biggest crowd draw, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, canceled its performance after the tragic fatal crash last week. But the cancellation of the main act is no reason to stay home. The Air Force said it will send some exciting airplanes to replacement the Thunderbirds. There are plenty of other terrific performers to enjoy, including the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, the Aerostars, Julie Clark, Kirby Chambliss, Kevin Coleman, Michael Goulian, Lee Lauderback, the Paradigm Team, Kyle Franklin, Matt Younkin and many, many more.
As is always the case, the schedule for the annual show is also filled with educational forums and workshops, and hundreds of vendors and exhibitors. There are also many youth activities, including specific workshops for kids. The Sun ‘n Fun campus is home to the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE Education Facilities) for the remaining 51 weeks of the year.
The weather is looking great for the remainder of the week, including Saturday morning for the planned hot-air balloon launch. If you’re flying in, make sure that you read the Sun ‘n Fun Notam carefully and follow the procedures.