Tuesday, April 28, 2015


2015 Sun 'n Fun
This trip had multiple objectives. We were on vacation so beach time was near the top of the list. Tampa has many wondrous beaches and we sampled many of them. We had some business meetings planned and were able to make all of our appointments. And of course, Sun 'n Fun.

We arrived a little before noon on Friday. Larger than Sebring, this event is much more spread out with many more vendors and airplanes to see. Our first stop was US Sport Aircraft to talk with Patrick, Mitch, Jim and Bryan. They gave us the "lay of the land" offered us some cold water and invited us to refresh there as often as we wanted. We left and went out exploring. The displays were much more elaborate, the planes bigger and four, full sized hangars were devoted to vendor space. I was surprised to see a number of drones being demonstrated, new for me at an airshow.

I had two "must see" vendors on my list. The first was Hilton Software, the maker of WingX Pro. I had a "limitation" that I wanted to discuss concerning the playback feature. I love the capability, but want to have files accessible by flight, not by day. It would allow me to send each student his own .gpx file and combined with video, create individual flight reviews. After a short demonstration the guy working the booth finally understood my requirement and agreed to take it back to the development team.

The second was Spencer Aircraft. I bought two travel chairs from them at Sebring and one had failed. An ingenious design with aluminum tubes and bungees, this chair is very compact and light weight. Perfect to throw in the wing locker when going to an airshow. But the resin connecter on one chair had failed after the first use. I found the booth and was prepared for an argument. Instead I got an apology, immediate replacement for the broken part from one of the kits in his booth and a free t-shirt. All he asked was that I send a picture of the broken part with the serial number so that he can advise his supplier of the defect. Done Deal! (yes, I WILL do business with his company again.)

After lunch (a surprisingly good hamburger) and wandering around in the warm Florida sun, we found our way back to US Sport Aircraft. Although very active with customers, we were invited to sit in the shade and enjoy the afternoon airshow. Great seats and all the teams did a superb job. The Thunderbirds are just so impressive, I had forgotten just how good they are.

We thanked our hosts and left for our final event, the NAFI Member's Dinner to honor 2015 Hall of Fame inductees.  We got lost. Some how I turned right and should have gone left. We were hot, tired and frustrated and really not too sure where to go. We obviously looked lost. A kindly gentleman in a blue minivan pulled up and asked if he could help, then drove across the campus to deliver us to Buehler Hangar. Thanks friend, fly safely.

Good food, great conversation and wonderful speakers, the highlight was the Keynote Presentation by Rod Machado. Not a direct quote but something like: "...After a smooth take off the student immediately reached for the post takeoff/climb checklist. Rod snatched it from his hand and threw it in the back. The stunned student asked how he was supposed to climb? Rod told him "Point the nose up and don't hit anything!" You should take advantage of any opportunity to hear this man speak, it will be worth your effort.

Penna weather is lousy. It was hard to come home after spending some quality beach time.

Pictures: from Flying and Spaceflight Insider and Plane & Pilot

Commentary: A Tale of Two Air Shows

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