April 2, 2014
By Julie Summers Walker
With fanfare provided by the Florida Air Force ROTC Honor Guard and Drum Corps, a JetBlue Airbus A320 arrived on Lakeland Linder Regional Airport’s Runway 5 bearing 120 students and school leadership from Long Island City, N.Y., and York College, Pa.
Parents and supporters waved wildly at the passengers—students who have professed an interest in aviation, and many of whom have never flown in an aircraft before—before they disembarked to cheers. The students planned to spend the day at Sun 'n Fun, visiting the exhibits and enjoying the afternoon airshow, and return home in the evening.
John “Lites” Leenhouts, president of Sun 'n Fun, welcomed the students and JetBlue staff. Saying that JetBlue’s sponsorship of the students is “all about students, all about aviation, and all about having access,” Leenhouts thanked JetBlue for its annual pilgrimage of students. Howard Wiggs, mayor of Lakeland, also welcomed the passengers and JetBlue staff.
Polk Aviation of Polk County, Fla., is the recipient of $25,000 of the $100,000 annual scholarship JetBlue awards each year.
Nine-year-old Braydon Gammell was among the passengers on the JetBlue Airbus A320 that flew in to Sun 'n Fun April 2. The youngster had just finished a Lego model of a JetBlue aircraft the night before. He and his mother, Denise, were the winners in a JetBlue essay contest. Denise is a JetBlue reservationist in Salt Lake City, but it is her son who is “in love with airplanes.” Although this was “maybe my tenth time” flying in an airliner, that didn’t dampen Gammell's excitement. He plans to craft a new Lego model after his tour of Sun 'n Fun. His favorite airport: “That one in London—Heathrow—I’ve never been, but it’s the world’s busiest. That means it has the most airplanes.”
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
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