Storm Aftermath: Getting Back To Normal (Almost) »

In the main exhibit area at Sun 'n Fun, most airplanes came through Thursday's storm unscathed, but a few suffered minor dings, and a few others were totaled. At Cessna, a couple of airplanes ended up with cracked fairings, where they apparently were hit by flying debris, but for the most part, a little extra mulch was laid down and by Friday morning the exhibit was back to normal, though muddy in spots. Over at Piper, they were not so lucky. Late in the morning, the exhibit was roped off with yellow tape while awaiting examination by insurance folks. A battered orange Rans S-7 that had blown over from the neighboring exhibit sat askew among the Pipers. "We rode it out, with people in our tent and in the mock-up trailer," Piper spokesman Randy Groom told AVweb on Friday. "It got very noisy in the tent, but everyone is safe. Some neighboring aircraft pulled out of their tie-downs and hit our airplanes." It all looks to be minor damage, he said. He was hoping to have the tent open for visitors by Friday afternoon, and everything back to normal by later in the day, or Saturday morning. More

NWS: Tornado Likely Hit Sun 'n Fun »

click for photos "It looks like there was a small tornado" among the straight-line winds and downbursts that hit Sun 'n Fun on Thursday, a National Weather Service spokesman told AVweb on Friday morning. Daniel Noah, in the Tampa Bay NWS office, said meteorologists are working on a full report of the event, which will be posted online at AVweb when it's available, later today. The storm, which lasted about 10 minutes or so, did extensive damage across the Sun 'n Fun campus, and damaged about 40 airplanes. By Friday morning, the field was largely cleaned up, though some piles of broken branches and other debris were still to be seen stowed away in corners. Most of the damaged airplanes had been re-located to a remote ramp on the field by early morning. Sopping-wet parking fields were slow to open, and showgoers lined up along the roadsides waiting to get in to park at 8 a.m. But at least airplanes were flying again, a welcome sound above what has been a fairly quiet show so far, with most flying grounded due to the wind and weather earlier in the week. More

Tent Collapse Did Trap 70 at Sun 'n Fun »

There were some scary moments for about 70 people, including nine former Women Air Service pilots in their 90s, when the storm that ripped through Sun 'n Fun on Thursday collapsed the tent structure in which a luncheon was being held in the WASPs' honor. The event was sponsored by the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum of Keystone Heights Airport in Florida. Bob Oehl, an executive volunteer with the museum, said he and others fought to keep the aluminum structure and tent supported while most of the attendees huddled under the tables. He said he called 911 as rain, hail and furious winds collapsed the structure around them. Initial reports of a building collapse trapping 70 people were refuted by Lakeland Police and Sun 'n Fun staff, possibly because the facility was not a permanent structure. "But it happened," said Oehl. More

New "Super Legend" Cub Introduced »

American Legend Aircraft Company said on Thursday it is adding a new model, the Super Legend, to its Legend Cub two-place sport aircraft line. The Super Legend comes with the Lycoming 233 Series lightweight engine, a Super Cub-style pressure cowling, and a classic Super Cub paint scheme. With a base weight of just about 845 pounds, the Super Legend's power-to-weight ratio rivals that of a 150 hp Super Cub, the company says. The Super Legend comes with a choice of avionics, including basic "low and slow," cross-country with night VFR, or the Smart Cub panel. The Lycoming engine, which is expected to be certified later this year, can fun on either 100LL or unleaded auto fuel. The intro price is $139,000, and first deliveries are expected early in 2012. More

"Aviation Green" Event Cut Short By Storm »

The Lindbergh Foundation's day-long series of forums about alternative fuels and cleaner aviation technology was under way Thursday in Sun 'n Fun's new Central Florida Aerospace Academy building when the storm hit. Everyone in the building was told to move into the hallways, away from doors and windows, as the wind whipped and rain poured. The electricity went off, and people were told not to leave the building because powerlines were down. The hallways filled with forum attendees and soaking-wet refugees from the weather outside. Some forum speakers continued on with their captive audience, using laptops to show their powerpoints, until volunteers came into the rooms again and herded everyone back into the hallways, anticipating a second assault of weather. More

Sun 'n Fun Hit By Vicious Winds, Rain; Extensive Damage »

click for photos A strong storm front whipped through the Sun 'n Fun campus at about noon on Thursday, with heavy rains, hail, damaging winds, and possibly a tornado, wreaking extensive damage to airplanes and exhibits. After the brief storm passed, the site was strewn with knocked-over port-a-potties, fallen trees and branches, collapsed tents, wrecked airplanes, mud, and ankle-deep puddles. Many airplanes were turned over or smashed into tents or other airplanes, some with broken spars and extensive damage. "There was a lot of property damage," Lakeland police officer Terri Smith confirmed, "and a number of bumps and scrapes, but no serious injuries that we know of." Early reports that a building or hangar had collapsed and people were trapped inside were incorrect, she said. Those reports apparently originated from an erroneous report from the National Weather Service, according to CNN. More

Violent Storm Hits Sun 'n Fun Fly-In »

Damage at Lakeland, Florida's Sun 'n Fun air show may be in the millions after a storm blew through late Thursday morning, damaging aircraft and structures on the ground. Everyone has been accounted for on-site, and there are no reports of serious injuries.  Initial reports on cable news channels indicated that 70 people were trapped under a collapsed roof, but those reports appear to have been unfounded.  Lakeland Police Department's Terri Smith, whom AVweb spoke with on-site, informs us that no building have collapsed.  (Some outlets are reporting that a tent collapse had temporarily trapped those inside.) Storms were still moving through the area after the initial onslaught. Audio : AVweb 's Russ Niles reports by phone with editor Glenn Pew. Click here to listen. AVweb 's Mary Grady and Lakeland police officer Terri Smith. Click to listen . Russ Niles speaks with Sun 'n Fun official, Jim Bernegger, Click to listen . More

Aspen Takes On Retrofit Partners »

Aspen Avionics sees a big opportunity in the light aircraft retrofit market and it's moving aggressively to stake out its market share through joint ventures with at least three other avionics companies. At the top of the list is Bendix/King, whose long-delayed KSN770 has buyers waiting for competitive choice against Garmin's dominant panel-mount products. Aspen and Bendix/King are pooling resources and talent to complete the KSN770 certification, which Aspen CEO John Uzekacy sees as a natural third-party interface for its popular aftermarket Evolution EFD systems. At Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, John Uczekaj said the 770 project is "a very big deal" for Aspen because virtually every Aspen installation includes a WAAS-capable GPS navigator and heretofore, Garmin has been nearly the only choice, so a customized interface opens up considerable market potential for both Aspen and Bendix/King. Uzekacy expects the 770 to be available by year's end. More

Eclipse: Avio FMS Is Ready To Go »

Eclipse Aerospace said at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday it has received a Supplemental Type Certificate from the FAA for its Avio Integrated Flight Management System. The system was developed by Innovative Solutions & Support. "We at Eclipse Aerospace are very proud to be able to now offer a fully integrated FMS system not only for our factory-sold Total Eclipse aircraft but also as additional functionality for our existing fleet," said Eclipse CEO Mason Holland. The company is now taking orders for Total Eclipse jets with the new Avio system, with delivery time averaging about two months, Holland said. More

Cirrus Updates On Jet, China Deal »

Cirrus is showing off its limited edition SR22 at the Sun 'n Fun show this week, with a spiffy paint job and every imaginable option, but what everybody wanted to know about at Wednesday's news conference was, what's up with the China deal? "Is Cirrus going to move to China?" asked co-founder Dale Klapmeier, rhetorically. "Not gonna happen." China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., which intends to become the new owner of Cirrus pending federal approvals, is made up of "real businessmen," Klapmeier said, and it doesn't make sense economically to ship parts to China to build airplanes for the U.S. market. Moving forward with the Vision jet is the top priority both for Cirrus and CAIGA, he said. He expects it will take up to three to six months for the deal to close. After that, he expects it will take about three years to bring the jet to market. Cirrus posted its latest update on the jet online this week. More