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NATCA Members Work at Sun ’n Fun with Record Attendance

The Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo is Florida’s largest annual convention of any kind, and the second largest air show in the world. More than 225,000 aviation enthusiasts attended the events last month including technology exhibits, forums, workshops, career fairs, and aerial displays by some of the best airshow performers in the business.

This year’s Sun ’n Fun fly-in faced many different challenges. In addition to all of the normal work leading up to the event, both NATCA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had to develop COVID mitigations that would work with the uniqueness of the working conditions. “Because the event was cancelled last year, there was a two-year lapse in experience along with the event having a new air traffic manager and FacRep,” said Daytona Beach ATCT (DAB) FacRep Mike Driscoll. “We had many unknowns all the way up to the week before the event, and everyone did a great job being flexible.”

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Sun ’n Fun drew record attendance and the traffic count surpassed 2018 and 2019. All the aviation safety professionals jumped right back into the swing of things, and you would never know a year was missed. “We had to learn how to handle Amazon’s busy flight schedule (a new airport tenant since the last Sun ’n Fun) alongside our busy arrivals and departures, as well as the airshow itself,” said Driscoll. “The parties worked together to ensure that these flights could hit a five minute arrival window so as to have the minimal impact to the show operations.”

Even with the extra layer of COVID mitigations, Driscoll said it was a safe and busy event. “It has always been an honor to work the event and represent our profession, but this year, it was an even greater honor to represent my fellow members and NATCA at the event. I highly encourage everyone to work Sun ’n Fun at least once in your career!”

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