Sun ‘n Fun Looking For Future Splash-In Options

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This year’s heavy rains have made the lake at Fantasy of Flight unsafe for Sun ‘n Fun’s seaplane splash-in, Sun ‘n Fun CEO John Leenhouts told AVweb this week, but plans are already in the works to ensure the event won’t have to be cancelled again in the future. “The big issue is, can you get up on the beach,” Leenhouts said. At the Fantasy of Flight lake, not only are there concerns about submerged obstacles that would be a hazard to landing, but even if seaplanes landed there, the shallow water can’t accommodate a taxi to shore. “Pilots would have to get out of their airplanes and wade through 50 or 60 feet of mud to get to shore,” he said. “That’s not acceptable.”

The splash-in has been held at Fantasy of Flight for the last seven years or so, Leenhouts said, and before that, it was at Lake Parker. “The city has planted cypress trees along the shore where we used to be able to park the airplanes, so that site is no longer accessible,” he said. Sun ‘n Fun staff surveyed every possible splash-in site in the county and couldn’t find an acceptable alternative to Fantasy of Flight, Leenhouts said. He added that they will plan to continue to use Fantasy of Flight in the future, as long as the weather cooperates, but also will work toward finding a site that could be modified to work safely even in the event of future heavy rains. “We would have to invest a lot of time and money, to make that work,” he said. Leenhouts added that the Sun ‘n Fun main show grounds experienced some flooding and a bridge had washed out, but the site now is drying out and he doesn’t expect any problems for the fly-in, coming up April 21-26. “The grass is nice and green,” he said, “and the retention ponds are high, but tents are going up and everything is OK.”

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