Sun 'n Fun

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Sun 'n Fun
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
A Mooney M-18 Mite on display at Sun 'n Fun

Sun 'n Fun Fly-In, Inc. (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.[4][5][6][7]

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.[8]


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 new the 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.[9]

Notable events[edit]

A Thorp T-18 tornado survivor
  • 1975 The first weekend fly-in, called Mid-Winter Sun 'n Fun, was held in January at the Lakeland Municipal Airport and was limited to pilots, EAA, SESAC, and FSAACA members. 1,980 guests and 365 aircraft were present.
  • 1976 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. 1,200 aircraft including 200 homebuilts, 180 antiques, 260 classics, and 28 Warbirds were on site.
  • 1977 Snow fell at the airport for the only time in show history to date.
  • 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.
  • 1980 The date of the fly-in was changed from January to March.
  • 1981 For the first time, hot air balloons became a part of the fly-in. 24 balloons lifted off from the site on opening day.
  • 1986 A new corporate office and exhibit building were added. A newly restored Convair XF2Y-1 Sea Dart was displayed near the new mini-museum.
  • 1992 The Sun 'n Fun Air Museum (now the Florida Air Museum) held its grand opening.
  • 1995 Retired USAF Brigadier General Chuck Yeager and astronaut Lieutenant Colonel Curtis Brown were featured guests.
  • 1997 Brazilian Air Force's Aerial Demonstration Squadron (known as the Smoke Squadron) was the featured act.
  • 2000 Airshow legend Bob Hoover flew the last flight of his Shrike Commander at the fly-in.[10]
  • 2002 Bobby Younkin debuted the world's first aerobatic Learjet.[11]
  • 2004 Bruce Bohannon and his turbocharged Exxon Flyin' Tiger set four time to climb world records.[12]
  • 2006 show marked the first civilian appearance of the new USAF F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft.
  • 2010 show marked the return of US military flight demonstration teams to the event, in this case by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.
  • 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. 15 people received minor injuries. The airshow continued the next day.[13][14]
  • 2014 After the U.S. Government's 2013 budget sequestration causing the suspension of operations for military demonstration teams in 2013, the 2014 show featured the first performances of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force's F-22A Raptor in the southeastern U.S. in almost a year.[15]
  • 2015 show featured the first U.S. performance of the Breitling Jet Team.[16]
  • 2017 the show featured the French Air Force Patrouille de France, making it one of the first appearances in the US (along with the Melbourne Air And Space Show on April 1–3) in over 30 years. The team flew one show on April 4.[17]

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. ^ "Mission & Vision". SUN 'n FUN. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  4. ^ Sun 'n Fun (n.d.). "Sun 'n Fun Fly-in". Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  5. ^ Sun 'n Fun (2010). "Future Dates". Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  6. ^ Swaine, Liz (May 2004). "Sun 'n Fun Claims Record Exhibitors". Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  7. ^ AvWeb staff (April 2001). "Sun 'n Fun 2001: Hot Fun in the Sunshine". Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  8. ^ "Central Florida Aerospace Academy". Polk County School Board. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Sun 'n Fun History". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Bobby's History". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  12. ^ "For Sale: Bruce Bohannon's Flyin' Tiger". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Sun 'n Fun reopens after severe storm". Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  14. ^ Grady, Mary (April 2011). "NWS Confirms: Lakeland Airport Hit By Tornado". AvWeb. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  15. ^ "Blue Angels Returning to Sun 'n Fun". Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  16. ^ "Sun 'n Fun Facebook Page". Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Patrouille de France At SNF". AVweb. 15 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.

External links[edit]