April 25, 2011
By Sarah Brown
Sun ’n Fun President John Burton has been named president of the Florida Air Museum, located at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
In his new role, Burton will be responsible for “raising the profile and prestige of the Florida Air Museum (FAM) at the local, regional, national and international levels,” museum officials announced April 22 in a news release. Burton will move from his current position to that of FAM president effective June 1, said FAM Board Chairman and Sun ’n Fun Executive Committee member Pat Hill.
The museum, which sits at the entrance to the Sun ’n Fun campus, features historical exhibits as well as year-round educational programs. Hill said Burton will “lead the charge as we expand our vision, our programs and our presence.”
“All of us at AOPA congratulate John Burton, whom we have come to know and respect for his extraordinary efforts at Sun ’n Fun,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “His energy and leadership leave a lasting legacy at Sun ’n Fun and will undoubtedly serve the Florida Air Museum well in the years to come.” AOPA is the Platinum Sponsor of the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In.
Burton said he has given his heart and soul to Sun ’n Fun for 12 years and is ready for this next stage of his professional career.
“And what better time than now, especially considering the remarkable Fly-In event we just concluded?” he said. “I hope to apply what we learned these past few weeks—that there is no limit to what can be accomplished by a dedicated and talented team who share a common passion and a common purpose—in the dynamic new environment of the Florida Air Museum.”
Burton has been a member of the Sun ’n Fun staff since 1999, and has served as president and CEO since 2001. Prior to working for Sun ’n Fun, he worked at the Experimental Aircraft Association for close to 15 years and held communications and publications positions at other Wisconsin organizations.
Sun ’n Fun Board Chairman and FAM Board member Bill Eickhoff industry leaders agreed that Burton was the type of leader to take on the challenges and opportunities of the museum.
“It is clear to everyone involved that he possesses the specific attributes we were looking for to take the FAM organization, as the primary driver of the educational mission of the Sun 'n Fun organization, to the next level and beyond by utilizing the strong working relationships he has already established within the industry, government and donor communities,” Eickhoff said.
Sun ’n Fun said a national search will begin immediately for a new Sun ’n Fun president. Interim FAM president Ernie Sanborn will continue his role as head of programming and development and will serve as FAM’s executive vice president, the organization announced.
“We are excited with the prospect of working closely with John in his new role, and every bit as committed to working with Sun ’n Fun's leadership team as the changes move forward,” Fuller said.
Burton recently spoke with Fuller on AOPA Live about Sun ’n Fun’s swift recovery from a severe storm and tornado that hit Lakeland Linder Regional Airport during Sun ’n Fun 2011.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
Deep in the dense, moss-draped, oak forest of Amelia Island is a luxurious plantation resort. Check out this Florida destination while you are in the Southeast for AOPA's St. Simons, Georgia, Fly-In on Nov. 8.
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