Sun ‘n Fun Opens in Lakeland

Weeklong Florida airshow features something new.

Sun 'n Fun 2016
Sun 'n Fun marked its 42nd opening day on Tuesday.Dave Carriere

For the 42nd year, the gates at the Lakeland Linder Airport opened today for the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in and Expo. The usual compote of airplanes, avionics, and flight-gear are on display through Sunday, mixed up with an array of educational forums and workshops, and impressive afternoon and evening airshows.

This year’s airshow adds a new element with a demonstration Red Bull Air Race, which will take place during the afternoon airshows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Race pilots Michael Goulian and Kirby Chambliss will fly a hair-raising path through the unmistakable 80-foot inflatable pylons. While the performances will showcase the excitement of the races, there will be no scoring. Attendees will also have a chance to get a closer look at the pylons and learn more about the races at the Red Bull Air Race exhibit.

The seven-ship Breitling Jet Team is returning to the show, flying their graceful aerobatic formation maneuvers in their Aero Vodochody L-39 single-engine jets. The Aeroshell team will also return, with their spectacular day and night performance, which has become a fan favorite for years. Several additional team performances are also on the schedule, including the Aerostars and Flying Bulls.

Also on the list to fly are many renowned aerobatic pilots, including David Martin, Greg Koontz, Matt Chapman and Patty Wagstaff. And if you’re a warbird buff, you’ll have the chance to see some of your favorite airplanes fly, including the P-51 Mustang Crazy Horse, flown by local pilot Lee Lauderback.

At times the roaring sounds of the F-22 Raptor and the F/A-18 Super Hornet will dominate the show grounds, but there will also be a few breaks in the engine noise with glider aerobatic performances by Dan Buchanan and Manfred.

These are just a few examples of what is on the menu at Sun ‘n Fun this year, and with good weather in the forecast for most of the week you can expect a good show once again. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.