Storm Aftermath: Getting Back To Normal (Almost)

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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.

At Cirrus, the airplanes were fine. "We were lucky that the airplanes downwind of us [Embraer's Phenoms] were too heavy to blow over into our airplanes," said Debbie Breemeersch. At Rans, there were two S-7s on display, and both suffered extensive damage. The one in the Piper exhibit was probably a total loss, said Michele Miller, of the sales team. The blue one might be okay if the fuselage isn't bent. "The sad thing is, these were both pristine airplanes, that were on loan to us for display from customers," she said. They were both tied down and had been checked that day, she said, but when the storm came "they just popped out like a cork from a bottle." The company airplanes had been delayed getting to the field because of the weather earlier in the week. Those airplanes should be on display for the weekend, she said.