Sun 'n Fun

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Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo
Logo depicts a small plane flying towards the viewer and facing the left. The background consists of two concentric circles (inner is yellow depicting the sun, outer is light blue to represent the sky). On the right is a palm tree and on the left (above the plane) is the name "SUN 'n FUN".
Formation1974 (1974)[1]
TypeNonprofit organization
Legal status501(c)(3) public charity[2]
PurposeAviation education
ServicesFly-ins & other aviation events
President & CEO
John Leenhouts
former Sun 'n Fun logo
A Mooney M-18 Mite on display at Sun 'n Fun

Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo (officially styled SUN 'n FUN) is a nonprofit organization in Lakeland, Florida dedicated to the promotion of aviation education. It is best known for the annual week-long fly-in and airshow at Lakeland Linder International Airport in Lakeland, Florida, usually held during late March or early April.[3][4][5][6]

Previously called the 'Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In and Expo, for 2020 the event was officially renamed the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo in April 2019.[7][8]

In addition to the fly-in, Sun 'n Fun also operates the Florida Air Museum and supports the Central Florida Aerospace Academy—an aviation-focused career academy operated by the Polk County School Board as part of Kathleen High School.[9]


Jessica Roberts of Polk County Government Television (PGTV) guides a brief tour showcasing some events of the Sun 'n Fun 2018 expo.

The event was founded in 1974[1] and was first organized by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, but is now an independent corporation and not affiliated with EAA. Sun 'n Fun is primarily a volunteer organization, with a small year-round staff.[citation needed]

Other ventures[edit]

External video
Sun 'n Fun - Aerospace Center for Excellence, YouTube video; Polk Government Television. retrieved 20 July 2018

The Florida Air Museum at Sun 'n Fun, is also located on the Sun 'n Fun campus at Lakeland Linder International Airport.

In April 2010 Sun 'n Fun received a US$7.5M grant from the Aviation Education Foundation for the new Central Florida Aerospace Academy building. The school is an existing aviation-oriented high school and career academy that is already located on the airport grounds. Completed in August 2011 it accommodates 500 high school students, increasing its current capacity of 175 students.[10]

Notable events[edit]

A Thorp T-18 tornado survivor

The first weekend fly-in, called Mid-Winter Sun 'n Fun, was held in January 1975 at the Lakeland Municipal Airport and was limited to pilot;s and EAA, SESAC and FSAACA members. A total of 1,980 guests and 365 aircraft were present. The following year the fly-in was expanded to a full week and the City of Lakeland approved a lease for the convention site to be moved to the southwest quadrant of the airport. The public was invited on a limited basis. The number of visiting aircraft more than tripled compared to the first year, with 1,200 aircraft including 200 homebuilts, 180 antiques, 260 classics, and 28 warbirds on site. Snow fell at the airport for the only time in show history to date during the 1977 show.[citation needed]

In 1978 the fly-in became the second largest in the United States, topped only by the EAA convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a position it holds to the present day. The date of the fly-in was changed from January to March in 1980. The following year hot air balloons became a part of the fly-in for the first time; 24 balloons lifted off from the site on opening day. A new corporate office and exhibit building were added to the facilities in 1986. A newly restored Convair XF2Y-1 Sea Dart was displayed near the new mini-museum.[citation needed]

In 1992 The Sun 'n Fun Air Museum (now the Florida Air Museum) held its grand opening. In 1997 the Brazilian Air Force's Aerial Demonstration Squadron (known as the Smoke Squadron) was the featured act.[citation needed] In 2000 Airshow legend Bob Hoover performed the last flight of his Shrike Commander at the fly-in.[11] Two years later Bobby Younkin debuted the world's first aerobatic Learjet.[12] During the 2004 show Bruce Bohannon and his turbocharged Exxon Flyin' Tiger set four time to climb world records.[13] The 2006 show marked the first civilian appearance of the new USAF Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft.[citation needed]

In 2011 on March 31, an EF1 tornado hit the grounds of the airshow, resulting in damage to 40-50 aircraft, along with display tents and exhibits. Fifteen people received minor injuries. The airshow continued the next day.[14][15] The 2015 show featured the first US performance of the Breitling Jet Team.[16] In 2017 the show featured the French Air Force Patrouille de France aerobatic team, making it the second appearance in the US (the first being at the Melbourne Air And Space Show on April 1–3) in more than 30 years. The team flew one show on April 4.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "History". SUN 'n FUN. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Exempt Organizations Select Check". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 2 August 2014. EIN:59-2803958, Legal name:Sun N Fun Fly in Inc., City:Lakeland, State:FL, Country:United States, Deductability status:PC ("Public charity")
  3. ^ Sun 'n Fun (n.d.). "Sun 'n Fun Fly-in". Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  4. ^ Sun 'n Fun (2010). "Future Dates". Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  5. ^ Swaine, Liz (May 2004). "Sun 'n Fun Claims Record Exhibitors". Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  6. ^ AvWeb staff (April 2001). "Sun 'n Fun 2001: Hot Fun in the Sunshine". Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  7. ^ Niles, Russ (6 April 2019). "Sun 'n Fun Rebrands". AVweb. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  8. ^ "SnF Announces New Name: SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo". Kitplanes. 6 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Central Florida Aerospace Academy". Polk County School Board. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Sun 'n Fun History". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Bobby's History". Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  13. ^ "For Sale: Bruce Bohannon's Flyin' Tiger". Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Sun 'n Fun reopens after severe storm". Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  15. ^ Grady, Mary (April 2011). "NWS Confirms: Lakeland Airport Hit By Tornado". AvWeb. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  16. ^ "Sun 'n Fun Facebook Page". Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Patrouille de France At SNF". AVweb. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.[dead link]
  18. ^ Carriere, Dave (January 18, 2017). "Patrouille de France Will Perform at Sun 'n Fun during North American Tour". Flying. Retrieved April 1, 2019.

External links[edit]