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Event Report
Event Reports - Sun 'N Fun 2007

Sunday, April 15
Setting Up and Getting Ready for a Great Week!
April 15, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
The tent and campsite are (mostly) set up, and everyone's getting one final little bit of rest before the last-minute tasks like setting up the displays. The Yellowbird Skybolt and Barrett's Pitts S1-C will be there and we'll have a customer's Skybolt on display inside the tent. Early Tuesday morning, the flood of Sun 'N Fun attendees will begin to arrive, and the days will be filled with a week-long frenzy of talking to friends old and new, showing our products, answering questions and taking orders, looking around at the many exciting new items from other companies, admiring the sheer variety of aircraft that come in, watching the airshow, meeting other vendors, and just generally absorbing all the best that aviation has to offer. It's a lot of hard work, but it's also a lot of fun as well... you never know what kind of fascinating things might happen. We look forward to seeing many of our friends during the week, and expect to see a lot of interesting new "stuff".

We will be posting photos and updates throughout the week, so if you aren't fortunate enough to be able to join us in Lakeland (or if you just can't stay for the whole time) then stay tuned for more!


Monday, April 16
Setup Day
April 16, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
Monday was a very nice day, and the final setup went very smoothly. More planes and people arrived steadily throughout the day, it looks like the show is going to be well attended. We're looking forward to a great show!


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Getting everything set up...  
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Mike Marrin from St. Petersburg was kind enough to allow us to display his Skybolt in our tent this year. Very nice airplane!  
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We have a new display with a selection of our Pitts Special parts this year.  
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What do you do when a fitting for your display breaks and you're away from the shop? Why, get some tools and fix it right there in the motorhome, of course!  
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The Skybolt has some new markings thsi year as well.  
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A visitor checks out the Yellowbird.  
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All the vendors spent Monday scurrying around. trying to finish the setup process.  
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This interesting little Osprey is on static display by Wittman Pond.  
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Mooney often has very attractive airplanes on display, and this year continues the tradition.  
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A new Cessna Mustang.  
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A somewhat rare plane... a Funk.  
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Camping under the wind is a real fly-in tradition. There was quite a party going on in the Vintage area after the sun went down.  
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This Tomcat from VF-31 was one of the very last in service.  
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This bare-metal Yak was actually attractive with it's anodized skins.  
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There are as many different paint schemes as there are Yaks and Nanchangs.  
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More colorful Yaks.  
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This Yak fighter from WW2 was there early.  
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A nice B-25.  
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No airshow would be complete without a Stearman.  
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This gives new meaning to "mobile home"...  
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This is a B-29 Nose section for "Fertile Myrtle"... a plane that was used in the drop tests for early X-planes.  
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Some very historic signatures are on teh side of the B-29... Paul Tibbetts, Scott Crossfield, and Bob Cardenas.  
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Intact ball turrets are actually very rare today.  
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This speaks for itself... the manufacturer used bulletproof glass for good reason.  
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A lot of the future aviators are getting their start today as Young Eagles. This Ercoupe has given more than it's share of rides.  
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The owner spends "only" about 10 hours a year keeping it polished. Wow!  
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There's a lot to be said for the joys of keeping things simple.  
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Lots of effort went into this polish job.  
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A variety of light aircraft are already on the field.  
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Kolbs have always been popular at Sun 'N Fun.  
   

Tuesday, April 17
Opening Day
April 17, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
Opening day was really busy, as we expected. The day started out a little chilly but it was really nice for the rest of the day. The attendance was strong and many folks came by the tent. It looks like a promising start to the week!


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Cheryl finishes up the last-minute setup.  
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We have more merchandise and products on offer than ever before.  
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We have a video loop running showing some great Skybolt and Pitts S1-C acro.  
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Lots and lots of stuff!  
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The outside of the display tent.  
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The side of the tent is dedicated to Pitts S1 items.  
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John did a great job on the new Pitts parts display board.  
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At what point does a "formation" become a "flock"? The T-34 arrived in style.  
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Mike Marrin's Skybolt got a whole bunch of positive comments from folks visiting the tent.  
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We have our props on display.  
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Gesoco is next to us again this year. Interest in the Vendenyev M14 engines remains strong.  
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These race cars a couple of spots down from us were not only popular, but they're street legal!  
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The Ravin is a rather unusual looking aircraft.  
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The Venture may look like an egg, but it sure is fast.  
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Barrett makes the first of several fly-by passes.  
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The smoke system works pretty well... the field was IFR for a few minutes after our fly-bys.  
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This attractive plane is a Cavalier.  
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A Cassutt and an Acey Deucey.  
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This is a nice way to do some low and slow nostalgic flying.  
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This Pitts S2-C was hopping rides.  
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This Mustang has a simple and rather clever folding wing mechanism.  
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RANS demonstrating one of their highly-regarded LSAs.  
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We HIGHLY recommend taking a flight in the New Standard D-25 biplane when you visit Sun 'N Fun.  
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This RV had an interesting paint scheme.  
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Suzanne Oliver shows off her considerable talent at skywriting.  
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Barrett comes in for another smoke pass.  
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People fly in from around the world for SNF... this plane is from Brazil.  
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Here's a blast from the past... an RV-3, the plane that really launched Van's on the path to major success.  
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A Champ taxis in.  
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Pretty sleek, eh?  
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The Eclipse VLJ performed in the showcase as well.  
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Flying isn't just an activity, it's an attitude.  
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This helicopter was hopping rides as well.  
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Perhaps the ultimate development of the ultralight movement... an Air Cam on floats.  
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Morgan Hunter's Corvair-powered Personal Cruiser gained a ton of attention. Very sharp looking and innovative airplane.  
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The Personal Cruiser was designed specifically around the Corvair, but it can be used with other engines such as Rotaxes, Jabirus and Continentals.  
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Bill Clapp's KR-2S is an outsstanding example of how a really nice, fast airplane doesn't have to be expensive. He built it for $7,300 complete in 11 months (18 months if you count the scrounging time.) This plane was on the cover of Sport Aviation in both December 2006 and (less obvioulsy so) in March 2007.  
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Dave Vargesko's Corvair Wagabond is an excellent example of a clean, simple aircraft done right.  
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The Piloti Shoes we sell are rapidly gaining in popularity.  
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A pair of F/A-18s made a dramatic arrival and treated us to a few passes before landing. VERY LOUD!  
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The aerobatic P-51 formation performance by Lee Lauderback and Ed Shipley is a sight not to be missed!  
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Skybolt performer Randy Harris of Bearfeat Aerobatics put on a great show, like always.  
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Randy really wrings his Super Skybolt out.  
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The Skybolt is a lot larger than many aircraft that do acro at airshows, and looks that much more impressive.  
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Matt Younkin flew a Beech 18 through a pretty aggressive aerobatic routine.  
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The Beech's twin radials really sound great!  
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Matt's performance is dedicated to his father, the late great Bobby Younkin. Bobby died (doing what he loved) in a mid-air collision with Jimmy Franklin as part of the famed Masters of Disaster act.  
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Matt really knows how to put on a great show.  
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John Mohr is certainly one of the finest airshow performers there is.  
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John flies a totally stock 220hp Stearman. The only modification is the smoke system.  
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Yes, John pulled out in time!  
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Wheee!  
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John gets more performance out of a Stearman than most folks can get out of the latest and greatest airplane. He simply knows his plane thoroughly, inside and out.  
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John is quite a showman.  
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Coming back for more!  
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The crowd really showed their appreciation for Gene Soucy and Theresa Stokes and their great wingwalking act.  
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Kent Pietsch lands on "the world's smallest airport"...  
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... and then takes off again!  
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Aeroshell Team: that's pretty much synonymous with "the best in the business".  
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Paul's son Ethan is having a ball. He is not even 3 and can already can say the five T's of IFR flight... way to go, Paul!  

Wednesday, April 18 April 18, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
Wednesday was a very busy day, with excellent attendance and more great weather. Many folks came by the tent, looking at the various products on display... the Piloti Shoes are selling like hotcakes. Quite a few performers have started wearing Pilotis this year, including Randy Harris (Bearfeat Aerobatics Skybolt), Eric Tucker (Tucker upset training), Elaine Larsen (driver of the Embry-Riddle "Miss Ta Fire" jet dragster), Jacquie B (Pitts performer). Other well-known pilots who have already been wearing Pilotis include Sean D. Tucker, Steve and Suzanne Oliver, wingwalker Theresa Stokes, and several others.


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Our Piloti Shoes display was popular all day long.  
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Eric Tucker came by to check out the Pilotis. Yes, his dad is Sean D. Tucker. Eric also flies and is involved with unusual attitude training.  
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Jet Dragster driver (pilot?) Elaine Larsen was excited to find Pilotis as well.  
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This DC-3 put on quite a display of maneuverability and low-altitude flying.  
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The Red Knight T-33 does graceful, fast aerobatics.  
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Meanwhile over in Paradise City... this Kolb Firestar flew around nearly constantly.  
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Low and slow must be a lot of fun, because all these guys and gals couldn't seem to get enough of it!  
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The winds were a little stiff but most of the fixed-wing light aircraft and ultralights managed to fly without any problem.  
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The plane isn't very large, but it's very well traveled!  
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Off we go!  
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The Zenith 701 STOL isn't the slickest-looking plane, but it sure doesn't need much runway.  
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This is one of the more modern LSA's.  
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This little trike really went screaming by.  
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A Kolb on floats... looks like fun!  
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The venerable Drifter design is now back in production by Lockwood.  
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If you look closely, you can just about see their smiles!  
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Our friends at Aero Adventure were hopping rides all afternoon.  
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A nifty little light plane.  
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A trike takes off.  
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Extra visibility, anyone?  
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The Jet Fox is from Europe.  
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Culture clash... Baron von Richthofen meets the PPC.  
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This was cool... a replica Bleriot.  
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Another LSA awaits it's owner's return from seeing the show.  
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It was just a matter of time... an electric-powered manned aircraft!  
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The batteries are military-surplus Li-Poly cells. The motor is a custom-built brushless unit driving a folding carbon-fiber prop.  
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The whole system is actually pretty simple, and looked to borrow a lot from R/C airplane technology where electric is on the way to pushing gas/glow power aside.  
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Instead of a gas gauge ad manifold pressure, you have meters for volts and amps.  
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The throttle... on/off and a power knob. Endurance is expected to be about 1.5 hours.  
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Titan had two of their great little T-51 Mustang replicas on display. They are two-seat aircraft.  
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The Mini-Max remains a popular and well-respected light airplane.  
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A new-build Luscombe.  
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Fans of early ultralights will recognize this as an Easy Riser... originally a hang glider, later a powered ultralight. They are going back into production "due to popular demand".  
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This is an original Easy Rider. Control is from a combination of rudder pedals and weight shift.  
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The Easy Riser flew towards the end of the daylight... it's a graceful sight.  
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The Riser floats in gracefully for a deadstick landing. It seemed to handle OK in the not-so-gentle breeze.  
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This is an 87% scale Fieseler 156 Storch replica that is being offered for sale in kit form. Very neat!  
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The visibility is great, it's a warbird (kinda)... and the stall speed is 17 mph!  
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This odd little van from Subaru was on display... it was only about 4 feet high.  
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The wheels are so big, you might be able to land on water with them.  
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This Cessna 195 has the coolest paint job we've seen in a long, long time.  
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SNF is a great place to see how airplanes work.  
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This Pitts was on display in front of the IAC tent.  
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Another high-end acro plane near IAC.  
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A Pitts S1.  
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This is a two-seat homebuilt... looks like the viisbility and soaring performance ought to be excellent.  
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Comp Air had their brand-new turboprop on display... it had flown just before the show. This thing is REALLY, REALLY BIG!  
 

Thursday, April 19 April 19, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
Thursday was REALLY busy for Steen, as folks came in throughout the day to check out the display... the shoes are continuing to be very, very popular. The airshows have been excellent (as always) and the weather remains nice. It's been a GREAT show so far in all respects!


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Lots of folks are continuing to come by and visit the tent.  
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Airshow performer Jacquie B (Warda) poses with Mike Marrin's beautiful Skybolt. Jacquie wears Pilotis.  
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Randy Harris chats with Aaron and Cheryl.  
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Bearfeat Aerobatics Super Skybolt pilot Randy Harris mugs for the camera. (Guess what the shoes are).  
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Dave discusses airplanes with some customers.  
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Two awesome A-10 Warthogs came in... they're flying on Friday in the airshow.  
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One A-10 taxis in while the second one rolls out.  
 

Friday, April 20 April 20, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
Thursday was the day for the annual Biplane cookout... it was the biggest party we've had yet, with about 100 folks attending. Jeff cooked up lots of burgers, chicken and side dishes and everyone really enjoyed it all. The party went on into the night and we even showed the movie "Airplane!" to an appreciative crowd. It was a great chance to catch up with everyone and just have a great time talking about biplanes and such. The night airshow was a lot of fun too... all in all a great day throughout.


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Barrett makes a fast, loud, smoky pass before lunch.  
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Suzanne Oliver was up doing skywriting while the Yellowbird was in the fly-by pattern.  
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Near the start of the warbird show, a B-1B bomber made some really intense fly-bys.  
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He probably burned more fuel on each pass than a Skybolt could use in a month!  
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Folks were coming in out of the sun all day long.  
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Aaron and Dennis take a quick break from the busy day.  
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The traditional start of the airshow.  
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The tent was downright crowded at times!  
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This C-47 is soldiering on, many decades after it was built.  
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A T-28 beats up the airfield.  
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Nothing quite like a Mustang...  
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This Spitfire did a very impressive acro demo.  
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The A-10 demo was impressive. Those guys like to fly and fight right down in the weeds.  
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Chris, Paul, and the kids head back to the campsite to get ready for the cookout.  
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Folks started arriving about 5pm, and the party began.  
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By about 6, folks had started arriving in large numbers.  
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Everyone was chowing down... lots of complements for Jeff's cooking abilities.  
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Skybolt builders do some hangar flying.  
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Good stories were flowing as well.  
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Diane thoroughly enjoyed the chance to watch the kids.  
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Our good friend Butch came over from Melbourne for the cookout.  
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Jeff takes great pride in making food that everyone really enjoys.  
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More folks enjoying the food.  
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Matthew can say "airplane" in three languages.  
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Quite a spread...  
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Matthew and Ethan looking for a way to escape the playpen.  
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Awwww....  
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Three cheers for Chef Jeff!!!  
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Jet Dragster driver Elaine Larsen chats with Corvair guru William Wynne and our "wing guy" John Hollister.  
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Chris and Dave having a good time.  
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The Corvair group joined us... fun bunch of folks.  
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The party went on well into the night.  
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Some folks went down to watch the night airshow as well... very cool stuff.  
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Wonder how many UFO reports the Lakeland PD got on Friday?  
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Seeing aerobatics at night is a whole different experience.  
 

Saturday, April 21 (Part 1)
Hot-Air Balloon Race
April 21, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
Early Saturday morning (7am) the annual SNF ballooon race got off the ground. The object is to follow the lead balloon and try to land as close to their landing spot as possible. Since everyone's at the mercy of the wind, you cannot usually "overtake" another balloon as in other kinds of racing... although a quick launching process is part of the strategy. The real object of course isn't as much to win as to have a lot of fun enjoying this unique and beautiful sport. Our friend Ed Lamiere and his balloon "Wild Goose" were in the race this year, and Paul (also a balloon pilot) and Rick went along for a ride. The weather was nice and many balloons launched and recovered after flying a ways to the southwest.

Of course, there was the traditional champaign toast after landing. Here's an interesting bit of history you may not have known... the tradition of having champaign after a balloon flight dates all the way back to the sport's beginnings in 17th century France. Early balloonists, like those today, never knew where they would land until they got there. After a few incidents of irate, scared (and often superstitious) farmers and villagers coming out with pitchforks, torches, and who knows what else trying to attack these strange invaders from the heavens, the aeronauts hit upon the idea of bringing bottles of wine on each flight both to serve as a "peace offering" as well as to demonstrate that they were not extraterrestrials from another planet, but rather Monseur Pierre from the next village down the road. This helped the situation immensely (not to mention probably helped to induce folks to lend a hand in helping to gather up the balloon). Even though most people nowadays think it's really neat and exciting to have a balloon land in their field, and the welcoming committee is generally armed with sandwiches and picture phones rather than sharpened farm implements, the champaign toast at the conclusion of a successful flight remains an important ballooning tradition!


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One nice thing about ballooning... the entire aircraft can be transported on the back of a van, truck, or on a small trailer.  
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Maybe Diane is having a little too much fun with that burner...  
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The inside of the basket.  
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Rick and Paul hold the mouth of the balloon open so the fan can blow air in to inflate the envelope.  
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A balloon is a LOT bigger in volume than most folks realize. It takes a while for the envelope to inflate.  
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Ballooning begins by inflating their balloons with small gas-powered fans. The burners aren't lit up until the envelope is nearly fully inflated.  
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There are few things more tranquil and beautiful than an early-morning balloon launch.  
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Liftoff! This view is looking to the southwest... downwind.  
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The Yellowbird and other acro planes sit in the IAC display area while their distant, lighter-than-air cousins float gracefully past overhead.  
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There's a lot of stuff at SNF!  
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Can you find the Steen Aero tent?  
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Paul (left) and Ed smile for the camera. Paul is also a rated balloon pilot, but didn't bring his balloon to SNF this year.  
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Generally, if you're at the same altitude as other nearby balloons, you will be sharing fairly similar wind currents. Rising or descending into different winds is the only means of steering available to a balloon, although this can be more effective than you might think.  
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Ballooning is a unique experience... there's little wind (since you're being carried along by it) and except for the noise of the burner, it's very quiet and peaceful.  
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Here's a movie showing what it's like to skim along in a balloon.
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Rick isn't really a hot-headed kind of guy.  
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Hey guys, wait up!  
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Being the least maneuverable aircraft in the sky, a balloon has the right-of-way over all other types of aircraft. It's pretty unlikely that anyone would hit one... it's not like they're hard to see or avoid!  
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There's a certain sense of awe that goes along with floating slowly through the ether.  
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The view downwards.  
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This movie demonstrates how quiet it is... note how clearly you can hear birds singing!
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Looks like the landing area is coming up.  
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The big X is from the first balloon. This is the target to try to land near.  
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The chase crews have kept up with their balloons. Some folks who are afraid of heights and refuse to fly love to chase balloons.  
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Polk county is famous for it's phosphate mining industry. Looks like we're landing in a mine.  
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Ever tried to make a cell call from inside a small airplane in flight?
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Ahh, the fun part... packing everything back up.  
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Rick makes a call while looking at a dragline. This machine is used to scoop up massive amounts of earth in the phosphate mine. Generally they're electric powered and they're rather large... the main part of this one (which is typical) is probably about the size of a football field!  
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They're not being lazy, they're squishing the air out of the envelope so it will fit into the van better.  
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After the envelope bag, the basket is put onto the back of the van and it's off for some breakfast and champaign!  
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Yup... it's the original Wild Goose Chase!  
 

Saturday, April 21 (Part 2) April 21, 2007
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Article by Mike Whaley
 
Saturday is usually a big day at Sun 'N Fun, and this year was no exception. Adding to the crowds was half-price admission ($15) for Florida residents during the weekend. We were very busy with visitors to the tent, and other vendors noticed a lot more folks as well. The weather was nice, though we did get a brief sprinkle in the afternoon, it didn't stop the airshow. The B-2 flyby brought a bit of the surreal to the event.