Sun ‘n Fun Expo returns to Lakeland

Thousands of planes will land and take off from Lakeland Linder International Airport.

With the return of sun and fun Aerospace Expo organizers promise a more thrilling ride than ever – which includes performances by the US Air Force Thunderbirds, which will take flight Friday through Sunday.

“It’s going to be a great year as long as the weather cooperates,” said Gene Conrad, the event’s new CEO. “The numbers look good and we’re excited to start the week.”

The exhibition was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Last year, he kept with the restrictions related to COVID-19. But this year it’s back to normal.

Last year, 230,000 people came to Sun ‘N Fun. This year, judging by ticket presales, which have increased by 20%, that record is expected to be broken. During the pandemic, the fly-in lost $6 million and hopes to recover enough to have more of a financial safety net.

Tickets are available online starting at $45 for adults and $25 for children. Children six and under enter free.

Sun ‘N Fun’s business is raising funds to develop the next generation of aviation talent. Organizers say the Expo is investing in projects aimed at whetting young people’s appetite for STEM, so they can become pilots, airline mechanics or take up other jobs in the aviation industry.

Sun ‘N Fun is its biggest fundraiser of the year. Officials say 80% of its budget comes from the event, so when the 2020 expo was canceled it cost Sun ‘N Fun $6 million.

“We started selling all of our assets that we could,” said John “Lites” Leenhouts, former Expo CEO. “We were asking for support from the city. They came back and gave up our lease for a year. We got PPE loans.”

The Expo begins on Tuesday April 5 and ends on Sunday April 10.

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