Hopes Are High For Sun 'n Fun

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As Sun 'n Fun launches its 2014 edition, John "Lites" Leenhouts, president, says he is expecting to attract big crowds and a lot of new visitors. "Pre-show ticket sales are up two-and-a-half times over a normal year," he told AVweb on Monday, and the campgrounds are filling fast. Where are all these new visitors coming from? Leenhouts said they are arriving from all over the country, and he suspects growing confidence in a stable economy could be a major driver. He also said that of the 500 or so vendors at the show, about 80 to 100 are here for the first time. AOPA has expanded its presence here, with a big new tent at the center of the show, and Beechcraft also has more space.

Sun 'n Fun is a nonprofit organization, Leenhouts emphasized, and its goal is to provide flight training and education for young people. Jet Blue has recently become an official partner, providing tools to help high school students train for their A&P certificate at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, based on the Sun 'n Fun campus. On Tuesday at 7 p.m., Leenhouts will host a panel of aviation industry leaders, including EAA's Jack Pelton, Mark Baker of AOPA, Ed Bolen of NBAA and Matt Zuccaro of Helicopter Association International, to discuss the future of aviation education. The event will take place at the Aerospace Pavilion at the Florida Air Museum. A job fair will be held here for the first time, on Wednesday, from 9 to 2, at the museum. Leenhouts also said that local partners have stepped up, as they did last year, to help Sun 'n Fun pay FAA fees of more than $200,000 to staff the tower at Lakeland Linder Airport to handle all the show traffic.