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SUN ’n FUN Focus on Extremes
By Ian Brown, Editor
April 2019 - Touring the grounds of SUN 'n FUN International Fly-In & Expo, I noticed a lot of small companies touting their new candidates for the homebuilt market. In contrast, when I went to Van's Aircraft and said to the demonstrator, "So what’s new?" he just said, "Nothing!" but maybe he was having a bad day.
There was no shortage of campers, and the cow pasture extension to the campground was so full it looked like an RV dealership.
At the other end of the spectrum, the air show seemed to extend to the whole day, with rehearsals by the Blue Angels and others deafening the quietude of the campgrounds.
There was a Russian version of the Zenith CH 701 STOL called the SP-30 STOL sporting a Viking 110-hp engine developed from a Honda Fit motor. Viking's founder, Jan Eggenfellner, was the founder of Eggenfellner Aircraft, which went bankrupt in the recession of 2009. Magnus Aircraft, a Czech company, was showing a gorgeous two-seat composite aerobatic aircraft named the Fusion 212. It sells for $139,000 as a starting price.
Another aircraft I liked reminded me a bit of the SAM aircraft now adopted by Zenith. It was a replica of an Italian Tucano trainer. It's an amateur-built aircraft kit sold by an Italian company called Flying Legend. The company claims that the basic quick-build kit can be completed in 200-250 hours. There is a retractable gear option, too. I have to say that, looking at the website, the quick-build kit is very near a completed aircraft.
The weather was cooperative for most of the week with an early storm passing through briefly. SUN 'n FUN started in 1974 as an EAA Lakeland chapter fly-in that was held in January until changing to March in 1980. In 1977 it even had snow! The show has gone from strength to strength and is now recognized as the second biggest air show after EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. To date its educational programs have sponsored 41 students to get their pilot certificates.
So there you have it, a show of extremes: extremely warm, extremely noisy, extremely busy, and most of all, extremely interesting.