Robert A. “Bob” Hoover, the late Jimmy Leeward and the late Fred Cabanas were inducted into SUN ’n FUN’s Flight Path of Fame at a simple ceremony during this year’s fly-in.
As general aviation comes to grips with the various opportunities to grow our community, we become aware that we face a few issues as well. First and foremost among those vexing problems may be the fact, and yes it is a fact, that we and our potential customer base speak different languages.
On the first and fourth day of the SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo 2013, which was held in Lakeland, Florida, last week, Czech Sport Aircraft provided detailed safety briefings to the Lakeland Fire Department. The briefings focused on the Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) that Czech Sport Aircraft offers as an enhanced safety feature on its aircraft, with the aim of helping the fire department understand how best to react in response to an emergency related to the deployment of the BRS in flight.
Ask anyone at SUN ’n FUN about Albert Borchik and a smile immediately comes over their faces, followed by the slight glistening of tears in their eyes. That’s because for the first time in more than two decades, he’s not at the fly-in. He passed away suddenly Jan. 30.
To commemorate his memory, several volunteers gathered at the pond behind the exhibition hangars on Monday and set little rubber ducks afloat.
He’s been on the SUN ’n FUN board for years, but chairman for just 18 months. Robert C. (Bob) Knight is head of Knight Industrial Equipment (a long-time Lakeland Airport tenant), an airport board member and community leader. He’s been flying out of LAL since 1965. That A-36 Bonanza of his, which he calls “my lifeblood,” is on its fourth engine and third turbo-normalizer.
The news last week that the FAA will delay closing 149 contract control towers should come as a bit of a relief to the folks at SUN ’n FUN, since Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport was among the first slated to close.
That meant SUN ’n FUN had to come up with the money to pay controllers during the week of the fly-in. The FAA’s latest decision, however, doesn’t let SUN ’n FUN off the hook.
While it’s common knowledge in the aviation community that SUN ’n FUN’s International Fly-In and Expo is massive, you may not know the whole story. Sure, you’ve read about the economic impact of this weeklong event creeping up on $70 million. You may have heard rumors of the staggering air traffic, too. The fly-in will see somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 aircraft operations during this one week period, making it the busiest airport on the planet – bar none.