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(Lt. Gen. Earl Brown, USAF [Ret.])
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Event Report
Event Reports - Sun 'N Fun 2005

Saturday, April 16
Sun 'N Fun 2005
Created: 04/16/2005
Updated: 05/02/2005
Link(s): N/A
Article by Mike Whaley
Saturday turned out to be cool and windy... windy enough to force the cancellation of the sunrise balloon race. Shortly after we officially opened the tent, our friend Jim Taylor (who heads up the Acro area for SNF) came over and asked us if we could fill in for a forum presenter who had to return home earlier than planned. While it didn't turn out to be a huge throng of people, it went well and we enjoyed the opportunity to talk informally with people and answer some questions about Steen and biplanes in general. We even had the good fortune of seeing Barrett make some flybys during the forum time. The rest of the day wasn't incredibly busy, but it wasn't dead either. So far, attendance seemed to be fairly good... what the attendance lost in terms of sheer numbers seemed to be balanced by the apparent "seriousness" level of many of the people we talked to... many folks were beyond the stage of just seeing all the sights, and had very specific inquiries about our planes and products. There were also many current and former owners of our aircraft who stopped in to say hello. "I wish I had never sold my Skybolt" (or Pitts) is a phrase we hear many times each day during airshows... as is "Before long, I started to look around for another one!"

Jeff Long and Rick McGahee spent much of the day in the RV cooking up some of the most incredible spaghetti and sauce you've ever tasted. Jeff won't tell us what the secret recipe is, but so long as he keeps coming to airshows and cooking stuff like that, we'll let them keep their secrets. After a very hearty dose of pasta and garlic bread, it was time to head back towards the flight line for the Saturday night airshow. They made two large pots full of sauce, which paid off later when we were able to feast on meatball subs for lunch. For all the hard work and stress that comes along with attending an airshow like Sun N Fun, it can never be said that we ever have a shortage of excellent food to enjoy!

The winds again cancelled the traditional balloon glow that usually launches the night airshow. With the temperatures dropping into the 50's and a direct crosswind gusting up to 20 mph, it got really cold, really quickly! We discovered that we could sit on the taxiway and soak up some of the residual heat from the asphalt, but that didn't help all that much... the die-hard airshow fans managed to stick it out through the whole show, which was very good, but many other folks who hadn't brought blankets or good jackets ended up retreating to warmer areas or cowering behind aircraft, vehicles, buildings... anywhere they could block the wind. Even here in sunny Florida, April weather is generally fickle as we transition from winter to summer, so you never know quite what to expect.

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Aaron Ludwig looks forward to Sun N Fun each year. He can't wait until Aunt Kristin and Uncle Mike get started on their airplane, so he can help them build it (we're very much looking forward to having his help, too!)  
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Paul, Sherry and Ethan Goetsch enjoy some time together after Paul's forum.  
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Charlotte Johnson is a real cutie... a very happy baby almost all the time! Someday maybe she'll help Ethan and Aaron build a plane (maybe with a little help from the grown-ups.)  
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Barrett demonstrates the Skybolt's climb rate after a fast pass.  
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This was pretty cool... a Pitts S2, the Skybolt, and a Pitts S-1-11 were parked side by side near the acro tent. The difference in size between the S2 and the bigger Skybolt was readily apparent.  
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A highly polished Twin Beech comes in for a smooth landing.  
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This Beech C-45 was on static display near the forums area.  
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It's not a biplane, but the Cirrus VK-30 is still one of the most beautiful homebuilts ever designed. (Making VK-30 t-shirts for the then-tiny Cirrus Aircraft Corp. was your webmaster's first aviation-related "job", way back in 1989 or so...) This one was on display near the museum.  
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In WW2, British aircraft observers were taught that "there are fighters, there are targets, and there are Lysanders." This unmistakable plane is now very rare, but the Florida Air Museum has one!  
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Any scale airplane modeler worth his or her salt would break into a cold sweat at the sight of a real live Lysander, which has numerous unusual and interesting features! This plane proves the adage that "utility has a beauty all it's own."  
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More unusual details. One thing that stands out about the Lysander is it's size... it's a lot larger than most photos make it appear.  
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"Greenhouse" is the only appropriate word for the canopy area. These planes were often painted black and dropped into tiny fields in Nazi-occupied France during the dead of night to pick up and drop off Allied spies.  
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The Eclipse Jet garnered much attention when it flew in. One firm just placed a firm order for 239 of these... it seems quite likely that the much-hyped "personal jet revolution" could actually happen.  
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The M14-powered Radial Rocket sounded great during the fly-by session. With the right paint scheme, you could probably fool a lot of people into thinking it's a Bearcat.  
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Randy Harris comes out of a loop in the Bearfeat Skybolt.  
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Another non-aircraft display at Sun N Fun. This ducted fan powered car is unique to say the least.  
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Like the daytime show, the Saturday night airshow begins with parachuters carrying Old Glory.  
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The Aeroshell Team puts on a spectacular nighttime performance with their T-6s. In fact, they orbited the area for about 10-15 minutes after takeoff to ensure that it was dark enough to get the full effect of the show.  
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Aeroshell's twilight performance is always enjoyable and beautiful, and it's set to patriotic music.  
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The Aeroshell Team prepares to land.  
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Most of the night airshow planes have sparklers on the wingtips and other pyros and lights in various places.  
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A time exposure showing the various pyro during a performance.  
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Yes, it was REALLY cold. The wind was blowing about 15-20mph directly across the runway, and the temperatures were in the mid 50s. Only the die-hard airshow fans (and crazy people) actually stuck it out through the whole show. Lauren and Kristin do their best to avoid hypothermia.  
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Rob and Pat Moler (owners of the blue plane in our display tent) try to hide from the biting wind during the show.  
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Longtime SNF favorite Steve Oliver flies the Pepsi Sky Dancer Super Chipmunk in front of the moon and stars.  
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We wonder just how many UFO reports the Lakeland PD gets each year during the night airshow?  
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Better than the 4th of July...  
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The end of the show had a good-sized fireworks display, with a large sign reading "THANK YOU VETS" and concluding with the infamous "Wall of Fire".  
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The jet truck was awesome... a pickup with a turbojet engine mounted on it, complete with afterburner and lots of smoke. You really have to see it to appreciate the spectacle of it all.
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The jet truck makes a spectacular, fireworks-enhanced run down the runway, reaching well over 300 mph.
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The Aeroshell team uses spotlights near the tail to give the illusion of a flame trail.
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The Aeroshell team does a group barrel roll.
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The Aeroshell Team has a great lead-in to their landing approach.
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Manfred Radius never fails to captivate the crowd with his elegant acro routine in his Salto sailplane, which is set to classical music. His performance is always a favorite part of the show.
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Other entries in this series:
     Get Ready... Sun 'N Fun is Coming!    April 6, 2005
     Monday, April 11    April 11, 2005
     Tuesday, April 12    April 12, 2005
     Wednesday, April 13    April 13, 2005
     Thursday, April 14    April 14, 2005
     Friday, April 15    April 15, 2005
      » Saturday, April 16    April 16, 2005
     Sunday, April 17    April 17, 2005
     Monday, April 18    April 18, 2005
     Bonus Photos    April 19, 2005
     Best Of: Part 1 of 4    April 20, 2005
     Best Of: Part 2 of 4    April 21, 2005
     Best Of: Part 3 of 4    April 22, 2005
     Best Of: Part 4 of 4    April 23, 2005

If you have any additions or corrections to this item, please let us know.

Go to Event Reports archives

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