A Win From The Weather For Sun 'n Fun
"We blew it out of the water, went through the roof," Sun 'n Fun President John "Lites" Leenhouts told AVweb on Sunday morning as the show started to wind down for its final day. "The weather gods owed us one, from 2011, and they were very good to us." Severe clear weather reigned all week long, and Leenhouts said the numbers so far reflected robust attendance. "We're up 20 percent overall, as of Saturday night, over our average for the last 12 years," he said. "The military is back, that helps. The night airshow is huge. We've had a constant flow of folks, vendors are selling and getting lots of contacts, and EAA and AOPA also said they've had a lot of traffic." The tower reported about 8,000 traffic movements over the week by Saturday night, Leenhouts said, and he estimated the grass strip at Paradise City handled about another 500 per day.
Leenhouts said he's seen growing support for the show, and increased attendance, from the local central Florida region. "They are hearing the story that we're not for profit and we're making real contributions to education and to the economy," he said. "We bring in $60 [million] to $70 million to this local region." Vendors AVweb spoke with also said they were finding a lot of interested buyers over the week, though the sheer traffic numbers are still down from the heyday of the show 10 years ago or so. Leenhouts also said the dates for next year's show, which as of now are posted online as April 21 to 26, will be getting a second look. "We're trying to work around Easter and Aero, but that's getting pretty late, the weather by then is getting hot and rainy," he said. "We'll rethink that and I expect to announce a change within the next few weeks."