SUN ‘n FUN Celebrates Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show
by James Coulter
As someone who lives 40 miles north of Lakeland in a fly-in community with a grass runway, Sean Reynolds was the key demographic for the inaugural SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show last weekend.
Reynold owns a Grumman G-44 Widgeon, a vintage twin amphibious airplane. Built in 1942, it was originally a coast guard patrol plane before being converted into a civilian airplane in the 1950s and 1960s.
As his plane is amphibious, serving as both an airplane and boat, maintaining it proves especially difficult, as he is providing maintenance for both types of vehicles. Compounding matters is how parts for the vintage airplane are hard to find, he explained.
“This is a difficult airplane to maintain because parts are hard to come by,” Reynolds said. “Being a twin engine and a seaplane, you are doing more maintenance and engines, but also boat stuff.”
Both good weather and the prospect of better company drew him to the inaugural holiday festival and car show. He loved being able to watch the airshow, see the vintage planes, and mingle with fellow pilots and airplane enthusiasts.
“It is always great to come to Sun n’ Fun,” he said. “Lakeland always puts on amazing events. It is great to have an event like this so close to the house…[I love] Catching up with all my friends who came here, [and] checking out the warbirds and other unique airplanes.”
His seaplane was one of the hundreds of aircraft that arrived atthe SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show in Lakeland last weekend. Several dozens lined the green lawn outside the Florida Air Museum, while dozens more took to the blue sky during the airshow.
There were big planes and small planes, old planes and new planes, some with one pair of wings and some with two or more. There were also plenty of cars that drove over to participate in the corresponding car show, allowing guests to peruse vintage vehicles on land and in the air.
Gus Rodriguez and his wife, Ida, flew in with their Cessna 182 hydro-purpose airplane. Their craft has six cylinders, with plenty of horsepower than can fly long-range and carry a lot of weight, Rodriguez said.
He and his wife have been piloting for two years. They selected their current craft for its strong landing gear and weight capacity, allowing it to carry up to four passengers. As new pilots, they had difficulty landing at the beginning, so they required a plane with proper landing gear, he said.
As plane enthusiasts, they attend fly-in events across the country. They were drawn to this event due to its variety of aircraft. They both loved being able to see different varieties of aircraft, he said.
“The parking is excellent, the views of both runways are good, and we are happy about it,” he said. “Keep up the good work, and we enjoy coming out every year.”
Sue Losey flew down with her Myers 200, a 1963 model built in Michigan, her home state. She previously lived there before moving down to Fort Myers in 1983, where she lives near friends and family.
She and her family have been coming to Sun n’ Fun for many years. They attend many of its events, so she was certain to attend its inaugural holiday event.
“We watched the championship airplane event, the first time we watched one, and it was really fun,” she said. “It was way better than I thought. The weather was beautiful, [with] plenty of people, and it was much better than I expected.”