Sun 'N Fun Opens Flightline To All Attendees
January 18, 2007 — Taking a page from EAA's successful move several years ago, the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In, Inc. Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly in December to make the flightline area of the 2007 event accessible to all attendees. The area had been accessible only to certificated pilots, airplane mechanics, air traffic controllers and other "certificated airmen (and women)" as defined by the FAA. Additionally, members of the Florida Air Museum (FAM) at Sun 'n Fun and members of nationally recognized aviation organizations, including EAA, were provided flightline access, with FAM and EAA members receiving reduced admission rates.
"The new flightline policy underscores Sun 'n Fun's mission of sharing the aviation experience with people of all ages," said Sun 'n Fun President and Convention Chairman John Burton. "The past reasoning for limiting access to the flightline focused on safety. Specifically, pilots and other aviation enthusiasts are familiar with flightline operations, especially aircraft movements. This concern for safety - for attendees and for the large number of aircraft on display - was the primary reason for the flightline restriction not only at Sun 'n Fun but also at other aviation events."
A similar decision was made several years ago by the world's largest fly-in event-EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Wayne Boggs, Sun 'n Fun director of operations, spoke of the Oshkosh transition.
"The initial concerns of increased risk and injury to both people and airplanes proved to be unfounded, with the incidence of injury or damage very similar to when the original flightline restriction was in place (at Oshkosh)," explained Boggs, who serves as the Sun 'n Fun "air boss" as well as a similar position during the Warbird portion of the EAA AirVenture air show.
EAA's Operation Protect Our Planes volunteers serve the purpose of patrolling the flightline, communicating the importance of respect for other's aircraft, ensuring safety for pilots and their aircraft, and also thanking pilots for bringing their aircraft. A similar volunteer program is being developed in Lakeland and will be implemented in time for this year's fly-in, scheduled April 17-23 at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Florida.
As information regarding the safety program becomes available, it will be posted on the Sun 'n Fun website. Interested volunteers can contact Boggs at 863-644-2431.