Is Sun 'n Fun, Like, Over?
Forgive me for inserting the Valley Girlism, but I needed it for effect. We are contemplating the larger metaphysical question of whether this annual spring show is in decline, destined for that boneyard occupied by the Reading Airshow and the Bendix Cup Race.
I'm raising it here because in the river of e-mail that flows into my inbox every day, that one appeared in a header. The direct answer is, yes, it's over…for this year. But it'll be back next April, and I've already got it marked on my calendar. For me, this year's Sun 'n Fun was as busy as any I can remember—too many things to do, too few hours in the day.
But this has less to do with the state of the aviation economy and more to do with the life of the modern journalist, which has become the functional equivalent of running through a leaky fuel farm with your shorts on fire. Stop and smell the roses? What roses? There were roses? We don't even take notes on paper anymore. If it's not on an SD card, it didn't happen.
In those oh-so-brief moments when I paused long enough to have an actual conversation with a real human, the subject came up almost conspiratorially: Hey, isn't attendance down? Yes, it's down. We're in the middle of severe recession. Get over it. But it wasn't down so much to keep me from contemplating the statutory penalties attached to inserting my tripod into the nether regions of a patch-bedecked couple who had essentially taken up residence in the Lightspeed booth when all I wanted was a couple of minutes to ask a few questions. By the time they moved on, so had my focus on what I wished to ask.
So, yes, Sun 'n Fun took a hit from the economy and in a couple of months, AirVenture will probably be soft, too. What this means is exactly nothing other than the aviation economy is, for now, in the tank. Everyone knows this. Given that aircraft sales have taken a nasty slide, the fact that these shows remain vital is an accomplishment. If you ask me, Sun 'n Fun and AirVenture are eternal and as good as they've ever been. Hats off to the people who organize them, the vendors who display at them, the performers who perform and, above all, the people like you who attend them.
And if it was you in the Lightspeed booth wearing a khaki vest with 33 patches and 19 buttons, don't worry about it. I'll get over it.