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‘A bang-out year’ at Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo

There’s electricity in the air at the Lakeland Linder International Airport this week, and the energy is palpable.

Loyal airshow connoisseurs know these sensations well; the familiar smell of Jet A in the morning, the sonorous rumble of warbirds taking off, and the distant murmur of countless conversations signaling aviation camaraderie. All that and more is here at Sun ’n Fun 2022.

Beginning on April 5 and continuing through April 10, pilots, their families, and other aviation fanatics will have an embarrassment of riches all around, with airplanes to spot, landings to grade, and conversations to be had with others who share passion for aviation. There is also plenty to eat, as one only can at an aviation expo like Sun ’n Fun. Daily and nightly airshows from well-known performers (headlined this year by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds) will take to the skies, while more than 500 exhibitors on the ground welcome guests to check out the latest aircraft, newest technology, products, and services.

Exhibitor Abingdon Mullin of The Abingdon Co., setting up her display on April 4, said she is “so excited” to be at this year’s show.

“If last year was any indication of how this year is going to go, it’s going to be a bang-out year,” Mullin said as she and her crew set up their booth in the exhibitor hangar.

Jamie Mitchell of pilot eyewear retailer Method Seven said it was a first-time Sun ‘n Fun experience ahead, “pretty much all of my crew, including myself. We’re super jazzed because we’re a West Coast company, so for us, this is our only way to really meet and greet and hang out with all of our East Coast fans!”

Kevin Yurus of Bruce’s Custom Covers said he’s excited to be in Lakeland and “connect with a handshake and a face and meet the clients we don’t actually get to see, in person.”

Attendees visiting the AOPA Campus at the northeast exhibit area will have a chance to meet with AOPA ambassadors, learn about pilot services, and check out this year’s AOPA Sweepstakes Tiger,, a totally renovated 1978 Grumman Tiger AA–5B, complete with new paint and interior.

“I think this one’s beautiful,” April Allen said as she admired the Tiger with her father, Claude. “It’s absolutely something that somebody would love to have…If I won it, which would be amazing…I would take it cross-country.”

Sun ’n Fun visitors will have their pick of delicious airshow fare, as they peruse the exhibits and take in the action. Aircraft from humble homebuilts, classic warbirds, and high-tech speed machines will be on display for attendees to take in and even take home, with some aircraft owners taking advantage of the foot traffic by placing “for sale” signs on their aircraft.

“I’m just happy to be here and share this experience with my family…” said Brian Watkins,. “We’re really excited for the airshows and the warbirds!”

The nonstop action in the sky and on the ground has airshow season off to a stellar start. First timers and old hands of Sun ’n Fun alike are in for a week to remember.

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