“Folks are excited to be back to aviation events,” said Chris Eads, AOPA senior director of outreach and events.
Sun ’n Fun officials report that registration is at an all-time high, with “lots of exhibitors showing up, but with a scaled-down presence,” Eads said. AOPA is on site but also with a smaller presence. However, AOPA staff will be on hand to talk about aviation and provide discount codes for attendees to make membership and apparel transactions online from their home or hotel. AOPA apparel from our Pilot Gear Store will not be available on site. However, AOPA will be displaying four aircraft at its tent—a Cessna 152, a Cessna 172, a Piper Super Cub, and a Grumman Tiger standing in for the AOPA Sweepstakes aircraft that is undergoing restoration in Illinois. Inside the AOPA tent will be a series of educational seminars with socially distanced seating.
AOPA You Can Fly Ambassador Jamie Beckett will be presenting a Rusty Pilots seminar in person—for the first time since March 2020—at the AOPA tent, and he said he’s looking forward to the face-to-face interaction. The tent has been set up inside for socially distanced seating to create a safe space to brush up on aviation knowledge.
“It’s nice to be with people again,” Beckett said, adding that many people are frequenting restaurants and eating outside. “It’s not normal,” Beckett said of the crowd size, “but it’s the closest to normal we’ve seen in over a year.”
If human interaction is one of the most sought-after activities at Sun ’n Fun, watching the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform during the airshows might be a close second.
“I have a feeling that the Blue Angels are going to draw a pretty darn good crowd,” Beckett said. The Blue Angels No. 7 is scheduled to arrive during the April 14 airshow, followed by a Blue Angels practice run during the April 15 airshow, and performances on April 16, 17, and 18.
“In general, there’s just a very positive vibe to the whole thing,” Beckett said of Sun ’n Fun.