Back To The Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo 2021


By Daniela Knoll

One plane after another touched down at Lakeland Linder International Airport starting on April 12, 2021. A procession of brightly-colored aircraft rolled along taxiways a bit like an unofficial parade.

Pilots came in from across the country for the 47th annual Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo, which ran from April 13 to 18, 2021. Many of the earliest arrivals are die-hard attendees who are eager to see friends and talk planes after last year’s cancellation amid the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was hard to predict how successful the event would be.  How was this year’s event? In a word: successful, in my opinion. I saw a healthy number of vendors — around 80% of 2019’s roster, according to officials. We witnessed good crowds that went huge a couple days; Wednesday and Saturday (both days featured the night airshow) were thick with attendees. Sun ‘n Fun’s John “Lites” Leenhouts said Saturday was the biggest day in their 47-year history!  Organizers encouraged social distancing and wearing masks inside tents and inside the exhibitor hangars. Outdoors with the Florida heat, you definitely saw less people wearing masks.

Originally, Sun ‘n Fun was a gathering for home-built “experimental” aircraft but has grown to span six days and has a dedicated following. Since 1974, Sun ‘n Fun has been the second largest next to EAA AirVenture with over 500 exhibitors and over 200,000 attendees.  This year, we were able to take part as exhibitors with our AeroSport business.  We displayed our BushCat Light Sport Aircraft in the Light Plane area of the event.  We were able to give over 25 demos throughout the week.   We also were an exhibitor inside Hangar D, where we displayed the Kanardia Avionics that we also represent.  Kanardia Avionics are a great solution for Experimental and Light Sport aircraft as they are cost-effective and easy to install. The exhibit halls were pretty packed throughout the week and it was great to meet new people.

The Blue Angels were back! They conducted their first airshow since November 2019 at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland, Florida! It was a great way to kick off the 75th anniversary and showcase their two new platforms, the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the C-130J Super Hercules! The Aerostars, which are commonly seen at Galt Aiport (10C), were also able to perform during Sun ‘n Fun, so it was great to see our friends from home.

The weather held out the entire week and we were happy to be in sunny Florida while the weather was on the opposite end back at home.  We are excited for this sort of start to the flying season and hope to have a successful and healthy year ahead of us!  Blue skies for all!