Lakeland Sun 'n Fun Fly-in goers watching the weather, memories of 2011 storm never far off

LAKELAND - The memories of the tornadic activity that swept through the Sun 'n Fun air show are never far too off whenever the weather gets a little cloudy.

Pilot Mike Zidziunas still remembers when hail and high winds pelted the Lakeland Regional Airfield and threw planes around like they were toys.

"All of a sudden the sky started turning green and we had a big frame tent that was destroyed and a few dents in the airplanes," he says.

That's why Friday's weather caused just a slight concern.

The skies were grey, and the sun was nowhere to be found as wind gusts occasionally hit up to 15 knots just before noon.

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Even though nothing near tornadic activity was forecasted for Friday afternoon, high winds and cloud levels could ground some of the planes and not allow some people who would fly-in to the show to think twice about their decision.

Some flights have already been canceled.

President of the show John Leenhouts says the show has gone through the extra measure to be storm ready, even implementing extra-warning technology to keep the show running, even if the rain does damper the area.

Right now they're just trying to make the most out of what they currently have.

"Well you know we'd hope for perfect blue skies, but the weatherman doesn't always do that. So we're making lemonade out of our lemons here," Leenhouts said.

And the viability of the show is definitely something that a lot of people are paying attention to; the show brings in an estimated economic impact on Lakeland of about $67 million dollars and it's also expected to bring in about 200,000 visitors throughout it's entire run.

All everyone asks for is just a little sun, but for now, they're making do with what they have.

"It's been pretty iffy. It's been on and off. For a while it clears up and then we get these little bands through here," Zidziunas says.

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