The United Face of Private Aviation

Sun ‘n Fun draws the full array of general aviation together

Dave Higdon  |  08th April 2016
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Dave Higdon
Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon is a highly respected, NBAA Gold Wing award-winning aviation journalist who has covered all...

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Pilatus PC-12 Turboprop

This week's annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-In brought aviation users from the lightest personal sport aircraft to business turbine aircraft side-by-side, notes Dave Higdon. And as it has for years, Business Aviation interests thrived…

A walk among the exhibiting OEMs and other vendors reveals products from the experimental aircraft community parked right next to exhibitors showing an array of business-turbine options. Throw in avionics providers, engine and propeller makers and General Aviation shines, whether for business or pleasure.

While the vendors, pilots and audiences didn't come to Lakeland to discuss politics or Congress, the mood and attitude of those roaming the grounds was unified: They want the FAA reauthorized and funded to do its job; no user fees replacing excise taxes. And if what the FAA needs means slightly higher fuel and ticket taxes, this crowd is open to hearing the rationalization.

When aviators here voice their feelings about General Aviation – about ATC privatization and user fees – there is no ‘Us versus Them’, no ‘Private Aviation versus Business Aviation’. It's all ‘we’ and ‘us’. It’s a united front.

Sun 'n Fun, like AirVenture, is a show for all of aviation. To highlight, consider the following sampling of exhibitors working the Lakeland grounds this week…

  • Cirrus Aircraft: Bringing news on progress toward production of its long-awaited SJ50 single-engine jet (the first single-jet business aircraft to win certification);
  • Daher: Showcasing a pair of its TBM 900 turboprop singles;
  • Garmin: Displaying its vast array of wares used in Business and Private Aviation, alike;
  • Goodrich/UTC Aerospace Systems: Present, and known to pilots/operators across GA;
  • Embraer Executive Jets: Exhibiting its Phenom 100 and Phenom 300;
  • One Aviation: Presenting its in-production Eclipse jet and talking about its Kestrel propjet;
  • Pilatus Aircraft: Returning with the newest incarnation of its workhorse PC-12 turboprop;
  • Piper Aircraft: Showcasing piston singles, piston twins to its turboprop models;
  • Signature Flight Support: An FBO chain familiar to almost anyone who flies BizAv;
  • Textron Aviation: Offering a little of everything except a jet among its seven aircraft spanning both the Beech and Cessna product lines.

One Show for All Aviators

Out in aircraft parking and camping, more than a few Cessna Citations and other light jets could be found, scattered around the field. The tie-down pads have been filled with thousands of aircraft of every type, size and use – amphibian/float planes, ski planes and bush planes, fun-flying airplanes and business turbines.

They come from the broadest of backgrounds, and similarly the associations and trade groups working here represent a broad cross-section of aviation – NBAA staff are here, HAI staff are here, AOPA and others, attending industry meetings that attempt to help advance issues important to aviators and the survival of aviation.

We're all on the same side when it comes to retaining the freedom to fly, free of user fees or corporate control of ATC. One for all and all for one!

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