...Cessna Puts Down Roots, EAA Backs Off

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An indication of Sun 'n Fun's role in the aviation industry is Cessna's decision to set up permanent digs at Lakeland. Through the Cessna Foundation Inc., the company is building a 2,400-sqaure-foot building on the Sun 'n Fun campus, next to the Florida Air Museum. For 50 weeks of the year, Sun 'n Fun will use the building for the educational programs and activities that are funded by the annual fly-in. During the show, the building will become Cessna's headquarters and marketing area. The Cessna Foundation Inc. is an independent, not-for-profit organization that includes educational initiatives in the broad range of aviation-related interests it serves. And while Cessna plants permanent roots in Lakeland, EAA, the organization that many thought ran the show, has become little more than an exhibitor, albeit a huge exhibitor. In late March, EAA and Sun 'n Fun signed an agreement laying out their relationship and one of the results was the elimination of the EAA logo from Sun 'n Fun promotional material. Both groups insist the relationship remains amicable but neither will go into detail. "Nobody is our daddy anymore, we're our own daddy," Sun 'n Fun VP Greg Harbaugh told the Lakeland Ledger. "And we're proud of it. We don't answer to EAA." EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told the Ledger that being dropped from the Sun 'n Fun logo will protect it from liability and put the appropriate distance between the groups in the public's mind. "EAA was never directly involved in the operation of Sun 'n Fun," Knapinski said. "But a lot of people thought we were."