NATCA at “Sun ‘n Fun” in Lakeland Florida
Dubbed “spring break for pilots,” the 45th annual Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo, held April 2-7 in Lakeland, Fla., was a shining moment for aviation. Approximately 50 controllers and more than 3,500 volunteers gathered to prepare and run the event that raises more than $2 million annually for aviation education. The annual fundraiser is the second-largest aviation expo of its kind in the world, behind only EAA AirVenture Oshkosh held in Wisconsin in July.
“Sun ‘n Fun was one of the most impressive operations I have ever seen,” Southern Regional Vice President Jim Marinitti said of this year’s gathering. “It’s the ultimate in teamwork and a lot of fun.”
“Some of the greatest teamwork and professionalism you’ll ever see in ATC happens here!” said Daytona Beach ATCT (DAB) FacRep Mike Driscoll, who worked Sun ‘n Fun traffic this year. “It’s such a great event, and I’m honored to have played a part in it.”
Sun ‘n Fun is the largest annual fundraiser for the Aerospace Center for Excellence, which provides educational opportunities and scholarships for students interested in aviation, including those at neighboring Central Florida Aerospace Academy. The event also featured a wide variety of high-powered aviation performances, exhibitors, and educational classes at Lakeland Linder International Airport. Among the exciting things attendees saw this year were six U.S. Navy Blue Angels F-18 fighter jet pilots competing against the latest drone technology. With more than 28 shows a year, the Blue Angels are the perfect example of how practice makes perfect. The pilots fly every day, practicing high risk maneuvers that put them within feet of each other.