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Sun 'N Fun Successfully Launches Another Fly-In Season

 

EAAer Skip Little at Meber Village
EAAer Skip Little took advantage of the FAA's offer to help register transitioning ultralights at Member Village.

EAA's Sweepstakes Aviat Husky on display outside the EAA Member Village
EAA's Sweepstakes Aviat Husky on display outside the EAA Member Village at Sun 'N Fun.

April 26 , 2007 — EAA staff and volunteers completed another tremendous week at the 33rd annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In as tens of thousands of aviation enthusiasts - a good number of them EAA members - flocked to Lakeland, Florida's ideal weather to kick off the 2007 flying season. EAA staff and volunteers met with a continuous stream of members at the EAA Member Village, conducted dozens of forums and workshops, and hosted a large evening barbecue for chapter leaders along with other special events.

"Sun 'n Fun is especially important to us because it provides so many opportunities for our staff to interact with EAA members," said EAA Senior Vice President Bob Warner. "We're always looking for better ways to serve them, whether it be through our programs and services, special offerings, or just being available with information. It's always helpful and fun to have the interaction."

One spot where it was especially valuable to be an EAAer was the big EAA Member Village, a one-stop shop to get information about special programs and services. Special displays featured the EAA Insurance Plan, EAA Aircraft Financing Plan, and U.S. Bank-EAA Platinum Visa Card, plus EAA and FAA worked together to issue more than 100 free sport pilot student pilot certificates to members throughout the week. Also on display was EAA's sweepstakes Aviat Husky that will be given away at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this summer. Entries for the sweepstake plane reportedly came in at a brisk pace. Members could also register for daily giveaways at the Village.

Light-sport aircraft continued to make a larger footprint at Sun 'n Fun. EAA's Ron Wagner noted the strong, maturing interest in general aviation's fastest growing segment. "During the eight forums I gave this week, the questions people are asking reflect a much more informed audience than even a year ago," he said. "It's clear that the people who are expressing an interest in sport pilot privileges are moving beyond the curiosity stage and seriously thinking about getting involved in this fun, basic level of aviation."

Sun 'n Fun President John Burton, who said there were more people and planes on the grounds than last year, also noted how sport pilot/light-sport aircraft is evolving at the Lakeland campus. "Paradise City, traditionally the home ultralights at Sun 'n Fun, is evolving into our main LSA area," he said. "We've even added a forums tent specifically for sport pilot-related activities this year and that proved to be very popular throughout the week."

The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) staffed a tent by the main entrance, which served as an information booth to point people in the right direction for LSA and related activities. Warner joined LAMA officials on Thursday morning to help unveil the LAMA LSA Audit program.

EAA hosted a special barbecue dinner for about 250 EAA chapter leaders. Not only did it provide another opportunity for EAA staff to interact with members, special guest EAA Founder Paul Poberezny attended and had the chance to speak with many of them. Paul was also the featured speaker on opening day as he and Kermit Weeks appeared at the Florida Air Museum Pavilion discussing the early days of EAA. Paul also presented "People and Airplanes" during a special presentation Friday afternoon in the Florida Air Museum.

Other EAA staff- and volunteer-presented forums focused on homebuilt issues, flight training, medical certification, legal issues, and more.

Sun 'n Fun's liberalized regulations allowing all visitors access to the flight line was successful, Burton said, and he gave credit to EAA with helping to smooth the transition.

"We had 32 volunteers that served as Flightline Hosts, similar to EAA's Protect Our Planes volunteers at AirVenture, who worked throughout the event maintaining safety of people and visiting aircraft," he said. "We had great input from EAA on how to implement the new program and appreciate EAA sharing its experiences from when they opened up the Oshkosh flight line. We had a leg up based on EAA's generosity in sharing the information."

Sun 'n Fun's first concert featuring country music star Aaron Tippin Saturday night was well attended and will likely lead to similar events in the future, Burton added.

SNF also unveiled its first-ever sweepstakes aircraft, an American Flyer LSA, which will be given away on opening day next year. Sun 'n Fun 2008 dates are April 8-14.

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