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10 'must do' events at Sun 'n Fun10 'must do' events at Sun 'n Fun

Lakeland, FloridaLakeland, Florida

It’s that time of year again: Time for pilots from all over the world to migrate to central Florida for a week of all things aviation at the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo.

The AeroShell Aerobatic Team executes a break as they come out of the top of a loop at the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Florida. Photo by Mike Collins.

Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland is one of the largest and most popular spring events—it was even dubbed “Spring break for pilots” for several years. Complete with about 500 exhibitors, daily airshows (and two night airshows), thousands of airplanes and pilots, and onsite camping under your airplane’s wings, this is the time to get away from everyday life to just eat, sleep, and breathe aviation.

If you are going to Sun 'n Fun, April 2 through 7, here are 10 things you definitely don’t want to miss.

  1. U.S. Navy Blue Angels—The Blue Angels are scheduled to arrive on Thursday and perform each day Thursday through Sunday. When they aren’t flying, the aircraft are lined up on display with precision detail. Watch the pilots board their jets before their performance. Who knew there could be so much thought and precision involved in boarding the jets in sync?
  2. U.S. Red Bull Air Race competitors—Kirby Chambliss and Michael Goulian spend much of the year traveling with the Red Bull Air Race to compete in low-level, high-speed pylon races in front of millions of spectators, but you can watch them perform their airshow routines during Sun 'n Fun.
  3. Aircraft galore—Rare aircraft, military aircraft, you name it and there’s a good chance it could be at Sun 'n Fun. From the P–38 Lightning Glacier Girl to B–25 Mitchell bombers, C–47 Skytrains, the F–22 Raptor, the KC135 Stratotanker, and vintage biplanes like the Stearman and Beech Staggerwing, many of the popular eras of aviation will be represented. In addition, general aviation manufacturers will have their newest piston singles and twins, turboprops, and jets on display.
  4. Balloon glow and launch—Hot air balloons are a sight to behold. Each of the two night airshows will feature a balloon glow, and Sun 'n Fun will host a “Hare and Hound” hot air balloon race on Saturday at 7 a.m. where you can watch several balloons (hounds) chasing one (the hare) around the sky.
  5. Movie night—Watch aviation-themed movies under the stars with your fellow aviators each night at 8 p.m. during Ace’s Flyin’ Flix at the convention campground. There’s just something about watching movies out in the open at an airport. Bring your own blanket or chair.
  6. Career fair—Whether you are trying to break into a career in aviation, advance your career, or look at the opportunities available, the three-day career fair from Thursday to Saturday will let you network with aviation companies ranging from GA manufacturers to airlines and government agencies.
  7. Hands-on workshops—These workshops are perfect for those who are interested in restoring or building aircraft. With sessions on woodworking, metal fabrication, welding techniques, avionics and electrical work, fabric covering, safety wiring, engine installation, and more, you will gain practical experience that will boost your confidence.
  8. Educational classes—Sun 'n Fun hosts educational forums throughout the week, where you can listen to airshow performers, safety experts, and more. Many of the forums take place in the FAA Safety Center where you can also score free tchotchkes.
  9. Shopping—Airshows and fly-ins are great places to look for bargains. Many exhibitors have special show offers during Sun 'n Fun with nice discounts. In addition, Sun 'n Fun will be featuring a parts exchange, where you can peruse consignment items.
  10. Birthday Bash—Sun 'n Fun is celebrating its forty-fifth birthday with a fundraiser for the Aerospace Center for Excellence STEAM Education and Scholarship programs. You’ll be supporting youth in aviation while having a ball at the bash.

While you are at Sun ‘n Fun, please stop by our AOPA Tent—we’d love to welcome you and swap aviation stories!

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
Topics: Sun n Fun

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