Crowds Return to Sun 'n Fun, EAA Offers Assistance to Members
April 1, 2011 — Long lines were reported this morning at the gates of the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In after a major storm yesterday caused widespread damage to aircraft, exhibits, and tents at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Florida. Despite the calamity yesterday, people were eager to attend the show as the wait for parking stretched to two hours. Flooding closed one parking lot but volunteers were working to utilize hard surface areas. In a situation reminiscent of AirVenture 2010, messages on Sun ‘n Fun’s Facebook page and on Sun ‘n Fun Radio are urging attendees to have patience as organizers adapt to the changing conditions.
On the grounds, EAA staff is standing by to offer assistance to EAA members affected by the storm. EAA’s Ron Wagner said that members can come to the EAA Welcome Center on Laird Drive or to the EAA Headquarters building at the corner of Clubhouse Path and Sun ’n Fun Drive if they need assistance. “We’ll help in any way we can, and staff back in Oshkosh will do whatever they can to assist as well,” Wagner said.
EAA Experimenter Editor Pat Panzera reported light air traffic, but car traffic is backed up heading into parking areas. “The sky is blue, the place is cleaned up pretty well, and it seems like it's going to be a good day,” Panzera said, adding that all of the safety issues on the field have been handled.
EAA Warbirds of America board member Harold Cannon reported that most of the damaged air frames have been moved to permanent hangars, and the display areas have been cleaned up. Cannon, who also is editor of EAA Warbirds Briefing e-newsletter, said that there is a fair amount of air traffic inbound, especially now that, weather-wise, the way from the north is clear.
Volunteers began cleaning up immediately after the storm passed yesterday and worked through the night. The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels military jet demonstration team and the F-22 Raptor arrived earlier this morning. The Blue Angels will make practice flights beginning at noon today and then will perform in this afternoon’s air show, along with performances on Saturday and Sunday.