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Sun 'n Fun to draw a record 230,000 aviation fans to Lakeland

Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 17:56:14-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — Preparations are underway for the Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Expo.

Next week about 230,000 aviation fans will flock to Lakeland, like David Hensch, who’s been attending the aviation convention for two decades.

“Different kinds of aircraft you get to see. You get to see cool stuff like the Waco or even the normal stuff, all the businesses that come show all their products. It's just neat to see all the variety,” Hensch said.

Sun 'n Fun will feature dozens of workshops, presentations and air shows, including a performance from the U.S. Air force Thunderbirds.

“The Thunderbirds will be here for the very first time since 2015. So that’s seven years ago was the last time the Thunderbirds performed. So they're coming back and it’s also the 75th anniversary of the United States Air Force,” said John Leenhouts, President & CEO of Sun 'n Fun and Aerospace Center for Excellence.

This year’s expo is a return to normalcy without COVID regulations in place. Leenhouts said it’s the second-largest aviation convention in the world, generating nearly $70 million to the local economy. Advance ticket sales are up 20% breaking last year’s record.

About 4,000 aircraft will fly into Lakeland Linder International Airport. Making it the busiest airport in the world for about six days. The Federal Aviation Administration is sending about 40 additional air traffic controllers to oversee the influx of aircraft.

“We’ve worked on refining our procedures and policies to make sure that everybody that arrives here goes home the same way that they got here. So we bring in professionals from all over the United States to do air traffic control,” Leenhouts said.

Amazon Air will continue its operations at Lakeland Linder. The airport is working with Amazon to coordinate its flights with the schedule of Sun 'n Fun

“They reduce the number of flights that they have to fly during the week of the fly-in, so we can get our air traffic in and out and do our air show.”

The 48th annual Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Expo is happening from April 5-10.