Late in 2013 a study was released by PricewaterhouseCoopers that ranked Florida above 49 other states as the most attractive location for aviation entities to do business. Governor Rick Scott took the report in stride, suggesting it was an indicator his business-friendly policies were poised to reap economic rewards for the Sunshine State.
Aviation has been big news in Florida for 100 years. It was in 1914 when Tony Jannus began hauling passengers across Tampa Bay in an undeniably spartan Benoist. In the process he established the first scheduled airline passenger service — the world’s first airline.
One hundred years later aviation is still a big deal in Florida, and it’s getting bigger. Smack dab in the center of the state lies Lakeland. Home of the Detroit Tigers spring training facility, it’s also home to the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo. Both are major tourist draws that are well known.
What’s less well known is that the annual fly-in is, in fact, a major fundraising event that supports educational programs year round. And those educational programs have become the basis for a movement that could have statewide —and potentially a national — impact.