As Things Wind Down...

As Sun 'n Fun concludes, it comes home that the week has seen a lot of aviating, hangar flying, buying, selling and wishing. Even those for whom flying is a some-day dream, the allure of aviation holds sway. Here are some reminders of what the week was like.

If It's Not One Thing...

It's another, and in the business of showing and selling aircraft, neatness counts. Early on in this year's Sun 'n Fun adventure, rain-soaked grounds served as the nemesis of vendors and campers. As the week progressed, what was once mud turned to dust, necessitating morning rituals like this one. No word on whether he does windows, but we're not asking.

Teaching Homebuilding Skills

Many a homebuilder has heard the admonition from the uninitiated about how they love the idea of assembling their own plane, if only they possessed the skills necessary.

Here at Sun 'n Fun anyone interested can receive free instruction in the skills needed for pretty much any aspect of aircraft construction, such as building a wood aircraft, which volunteer instructor Dick Navratil (top photo) is providing here.

Of course, depending on the project, the skills needed may include welding, fabric covering, composite construction of basic electrical systems and avionics, as Paul Edlund is doing in the bottom photo.

And we can't forget metal-working skills, as metal airframes are among the most common to kit-building projects. For those skills, Burl Nelson and Jim Hoak help convert the unenlightened into competent shapers of metal, including bending, forming and riveting as they're showing Dave Lautenschlager by assembling the rudder of a Zenith STOL 701 in the center shot.

Regardless of the discipline taught, the volunteer teachers possess the experience required to pass on their knowledge to those hungry to fly a machine of their own making.

The Eyes Have It

Do you ever get the feeling that someone's watching you? The paint on the Sparrowhawk gyros on display at Sun 'n Fun drew many such comment from passersby as the strolled through the commercial exhibit area. And, yes, those eyes do seem to follow you as you walk past. Fortunately, this bird doesn't have eyes in the back of its panel.

Our Eyes in the Skies

The need to coordinate the arrival of thousands of aircraft, to manage the airshow flow, and maintain separation on the Lake Parker arrivals demands a lot of preparation and attention by pilots as well as the skills of dozens of our friendly aviation agency's top performers, the men and women of the Air Traffic Service. Every year they excel at soothing the nerves of anxious aviators, hand-holding those short-sighted souls who, for whatever reasons, fail to obtain and use the Sun 'n Fun NOTAM, and generally making life as easy as possible given the high-density nature of the flow and the extreme mix of performance ranges of the machines soaring into the Lakeland airspace.

We thought it worth it to show a few of them in a relaxed moment and say, "Thanks." So, well, thanks! As the event draws to a close, we can attest to another job well done.

Up, Up and Away

Not all that flies at Sun 'n Fun roars like a radial, buzzes like a hornet or spews smoke during low passes. The traditional Saturday-morning balloon launch provided an uncharacteristic bit of hushed flying for thousands willing to crawl out of their bunks and camps to witness the spectacle of color.

For others the quiet of the dawn hours provided an opportunity to reposition an aerobatic aircraft in preparation for the afternoon airshow.

And in case anyone is wondering, yes, that largest balloon is the largest dog the Sun 'n Fun spectators ever remember seeing. No word on what you feed a hound of that size, but we're pretty sure it's not your standard pet-store kibble.