I hope it doesn’t come as a surprise that the annual Spring Break for Pilots, SUN ‘n FUN, has been postponed (as of this writing).
For a couple of decades the General Aviation News crew has descended upon Lakeland, Florida, each spring to produce the official daily newspaper — SUN ‘n FUN Today — for the fly-in.
Not this year though. The tentative dates — May 5-10 — fly-in officials offered as an alternative are not workable for our small, but capable, crew. So I made the decision on March 18 to let SUN ‘n FUN organizers know that we’d be unable to fulfill our obligation to produce SUN ‘n FUN Today for them.
As painful as that was, I remain resolute in my support of the SUN ‘n FUN Aviation Expo specifically and the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) in general. SUN ‘n FUN is ACE’s largest annual fundraiser.
ACE’s mission is to “Engage, Educate & Accelerate The Next Generation of Aerospace Professionals.”
And wow, do they ever. A quick look at just three recent accomplishments from ACE’s next generation:
- 100 teenage pilots now certificated
- A second group of Redbird sim technicians certified
- Student-built plane to be used to teach disabled flyers
Since 2013, ACE has awarded more than $2 million in aviation scholarships. And for exactly that reason, our canceling production of SUN ‘n FUN Today did NOT cancel our commitment to our sponsorship of SUN ‘n FUN.
I assured Greg Gibson, SUN ‘n FUN’s Chief Marketing Officer, that we’d honor our sponsorship’s financial commitment as if the fly-in had been held on its original schedule (March 31-April 5).
We will be at SUN ‘n FUN in 2021 (April 13-18). And in the meantime, once the country — the world, in fact — successfully navigates around the coronavirus storm cloud, I fully expect ACE to continue engaging, educating, and accelerating the next generation of aerospace professionals.
Would you care to join me? If your plans to attend SUN ‘n FUN 2020 have been scrapped, I hope you will consider sending ACE a percentage of the money you were prepared to spend getting to Lakeland.
The “Donate” link on the ACE website has both the details of how donations are put to use and a handy online donation form. I’m sure they’ll also accept a check mailed to Aerospace Center for Excellence, 4175 Medulla Road, Lakeland, Florida, 33811.
In the last few weeks I’ve taken to closing my emails with the word “Onward.” Onward is defined as “in a continuing forward direction; ahead.” I like that.