I learned of the passing of SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In founder Billy Henderson on April 12.
I saw Billy at the April 4 ceremony for the 2019 class of inductees into the Florida Aviation Hall of Fame during SUN ‘n FUN. He had been delivered to the festivities by long-time friend Dale Faux. While Billy looked more frail, he still had his ever-present twinkle in his eyes.
In fact, I took a few photos over Billy’s left shoulder.
Billy wasn’t tall, yet he was a giant. As one of the founders of SUN ‘n FUN and its long-time leader, Billy was quick to point to others as the reason for the event’s success.
“Ask any of the oldtimers what they attribute the fly-in’s success to and they will quickly answer: Billy Henderson,” from a story on Billy in the first edition of Flyer SUN ‘n FUN Daily in 1983.
“Billy modestly credits the volunteer help for the success of the EAA fly-in. ‘This will live as long as there are sufficient EAA members with the dedication to volunteer and make themselves available to perform the wide variety of tasks required to make this thing work,’” he was quoted in that article.
Mark Billy’s words: The day the volunteers, EAA members or otherwise, stop showing up is the day the fly-in dies. That sure didn’t happen in 2019. More than 3,000 volunteers showed up at the 45th fly-in at the beginning of April 2019. What a legacy Billy, and all the founders, have left us.
Thank you Billy.