Photos and story by TROY & KATIE McCLELLAN
Our fascination with flight runs deep. I suspect that from the moment humanity looked upward and saw the birds soaring above, that dream of flying high above the clouds sparked imagination. Today, air travel is routine, and the idea of boarding an airplane to quickly get from place to place almost doesn’t get a second thought. However, there is something magical about watching daring and skilled pilots fly in aerobatic loops and with great speed and precision.
The Sun ’N Fun Aerospace Expo returned this year after being canceled just weeks before it was to begin in 2020. Besides being a huge crowd-drawing event, the expo is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), a nationally recognized Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program. This academy is helping to train and educate the next generation of aviation pioneers.
The US Navy Blue Angels headlined the airshow, debuting their new F-18 Super Hornets. This was their first performance in their new jets, and the shows didn’t disappoint.
One notable difference during the airshows this year was the arrival and departures of Amazon Prime Air cargo planes. Lakeland-Linder airport is now a large regional hub for Amazon’s Prime Air services. A 220,000 square foot facility is located on the northwest end of the airfield and is the largest air cargo facility in the southeast. In addition, it has added a large economic boost to the Lakeland economy. Sun ’N Fun Aerospace Expo has developed a great working relationship, with Amazon and the addition of the Amazon jets made for some interesting views.
The traditional Saturday night airshow was nothing short of spectacular, and it was capped off with one of the best fireworks shows in the area.
If you are passionate about education and inspiring the next Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindberg, Chuck Yeager, or Neil Armstrong, consider making a donation to this amazing program. More information about the organization can be found on its website at FlySNF.org.
SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that markets and supports dozens of year-round events, including the Aerospace Expo.