The good news is that for the first time ever Sun ‘n Fun has a sweepstakes airplane.
For $5 a ticket you can buy a chance to win an American Flyer, a high-wing Light Sport Aircraft that made its debut at the April air show.
The bad news is that on the way to the show, the trailer carrying the airplane from its factory near Boise, Idaho, encountered a high wind and flipped over. No one was injured, but the airplane was damaged.
Still the show – and the airplane – must go on.
The day before the show opened, Josh Foss, president of Sportsplanes.com, the LSA distributor that donated the airplane, noted that “the aircraft is being fixed even as we speak.”
Foss, joined by Dan Rosen, president of Mountain Aircraft, which manufactures the new LSA, noted that crews were working around the clock to get the airplane repaired.
“You know like that TV show ’24’, where every hour seems like a whole week? For the last 24 hours we have been working,” he reported the day before Sun ‘n Fun opened. “I just spent two hours working on the cowling. It will go into the paint shop tonight. The fabric for it was delivered two hours ago. The wheels are being sent to us by Fed Ex.”
The airplane took center stage at Sportsplane’s Sun ‘n Fun exhibit about 24 hours later.
The name of the aircraft is significant, notes Foss.
“If you look at the Light Sport Aircraft market you will note that a lot of the aircraft are manufactured or imported from Europe,” he said. “This is an American-built aircraft. We have a lot of people waiting for this type of aircraft.”
Tickets for a chance at the sweepstakes airplane went on sale for the first time during Sun ‘n Fun. They will be sold throughout the year on the Sun ‘n Fun campus at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida, as well as online at Sun-n-Fun.org. Tickets are $5 each or $20 for five. People who join — or renew their memberships — at the Florida Air Museum also will be eligible for the sweepstakes.
The plane will be awarded on the first day of next year’s fly-in.
“We’ll start off with a loud roar,” said John Burton, Sun ‘n Fun’s president.
The plane, valued at $79,795, will be delivered to the GA airport nearest to the winner’s home.
Sun ‘n Fun officials are grateful for the opportunity to raffle off the plane.
“They came to us with this opportunity, and we said ‘wow, let’s check this out,'” said Burton. “This is a great way to increase Sun ‘n Fun’s profile, plus generate additional revenue. We think this is just fabulous.”
Other companies that donated items for the sweepstakes airplane include Poly-Fiber, Dynon Avionics, Matco Brakes, Lockwood Aviation, Sensenich Propeller Co. and MiPPi Ultralights.
Sun ‘n Fun officials have no idea how much money they can raise with the sweepstakes plane. “We want to raise as much as is humanly possible,” Burton said. “We have no idea, right now, of the potential since this is our first year of doing it. This is a learning process all around.”
Funds will be used to improve the fly-in campus, he noted