It’s been just over a week since I departed KLAL (Lakeland, Florida) after enjoying four wonderful days at SUN ‘n FUN 2016. This had been the first airshow I have attended, and being what I consider to be a “new pilot” (205 hours, PPL earned just one year ago) it was an amazing experience. Flying amongst all of the warbirds and other planes was a massive payback for all the hard work I endured earning my ticket.
I flew down to KLAL in my Vans RV-7A with my neighbor, and we camped in the Homebuilt Camping area. We were pleasantly surprised to find a group of wonderful souls who for years have provided a large tent with tables/chairs, food and ice-cold beverages to anyone willing to put some money in a donation can. The camaraderie under that tent while enjoying hot coffee in the morning and dinner each evening was truly a pleasure.
I learned that being part of a community of pilots who have spent years building their aircraft makes you truly appreciate aviation. Though we did spend some time checking out all of the vendors, the real joy came from the human experience and “living” with the planes.
Tuesday and Wednesday were warm with the bright sun burning down as we walked from venue to venue. We later calculated that we had walked over 10 miles each day, and each afternoon found ourselves, drained of energy, back at the plane. Wednesday I decided to take refuge from the sun “under” my spinner (was the only shade I could find). Being a photographer all my life, I saw the opportunity of a lifetime to snap a picture. The results, as you can see, are quite special.
I now look forward to Oshkosh 2016, and my return to SUN ‘n FUN in 2017 for more flying, fellowship and joy.