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Sun 'n Fun 50th anniversary kicks off

Opening day of the 50th annual Sun ‘n Fun has begun and the anniversary event will include amazing airshow performances, exhibits, a career fair, workshops, forums, good food, a concert and movies. This year's anniversary event will take place April 9-14 at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida. Put on your sunscreen, hat and comfortable shoes and head to the grounds, prepared for a week-long aviation celebration. Tuesday is opening day and the early morning hours are packed with press events and previews. A historical marker will be unveiled in front of the museum doors at 9:30 a.m., provided by the city of Lakeland. The Sun ‘n Fun studio is streaming the morning event live from its studio, with hosts Gene Conrad and Amanda Holly. Opening day Sun ‘n Fun Kicks off on Tuesday, celebrating 50 years of the annual Florida fly-in. Opening day will feature a range of forums and workshops, presentations, daily activities like the career fair and movies, as well as some special opening day activities. Tuesday will start off strong with a daytime airshow, featuring performances from the TITAN Aerobatic team in four T-6 aircraft; the Warbird Arrival Show in various warbirds; Jack Aces in two P-51s; the USAF F-35A Demo Team; the Polaris Ghost Squadron in a Mig 29, three Alpha Jets and four L-39s; Greg Koontz in a Decathlon and Nathan Hammond in a DeHaviland Chipmunk. After the airshow ends, the night activities begin. Drop the kids off at the Kids Club at 5 p.m. and head over to the corn roast for good food and entertainment. The opening day concert features singer Dylan Scott with special guest Sara Evans. As the sun sets, enjoy the Aerial Circus. New and exciting announcements Companies flock to Lakeland to share big news and updates for the aviation community. Piper showcases new M700 FURY, shares other announcements The all-new, Piper M700 FURY, which was unveiled in February and type certified in March, will be on display at Sun ‘n Fun. The new plane is capable of 300 knots and features the latest in avionics upgrades for the M350. Along with the M700, the M350 and Archer LX will be on display and painted in custom colors and designs created by the paint facility in Vero Beach, Florida for the launch of the flagship. Piper will also have a Seminole and Pilot 100i trainer class aircraft on static display. Piper shared that Hillsboro Aero Academy has purchased five Archer TX and five Pilot 100i aircraft for pilot training. The first delivery for the aircraft is scheduled for early 2027. Piper also shared that it is partnering with Deltahawk Engines on a collaborative effort to explore the feasibility of integrating the DeltaHawk diesel engine into the Piper PA-44 Seminole aircraft. Daher increases Kodiak capacity Daher announced on opening day that it would be increasing production capacity for the Kodiak 100 and 900 multi-role utility aircraft at the company manufacturing and final assembly facility in Sandpoint, Idaho. Senior VP of Daher's Aircraft Division Nicolas Chabbert shared the news during the show-opening press conference, providing new production targets for the Kodiak series, with an increase to 25 from 18 in 2023. "Kodiak's well-earned reputation as the legendary ‘go anywhere' utility aircraft has been further enhanced since Daher's 2019 acquisition of the product line, and its popularity continues to grow - with a current two-year order backlog," Chabbert said at the press conference. "The production enhancement announced today responds to the strong demand across the customer base - from private owners/operators to government agencies and special mission operators for applications such as wildfire suppression, environmental monitoring, law enforcement and medical evacuation." With the addition of a second final assembly line to mirror the build-up of Kodiaks once the basic airframe has been assembled, Sandpoint can increase production numbers. There are now two separate, parallel integration steps for both the Kodiak 100 and Kodiak 900 from stages three to six, involving wing and horizontal stabilizer mating, flight controls and integration and rigging, engine and avionics installation, first flight, interior outfitting and customer delivery. "These parallel assembly lines were developed using our internal resources, fully benefiting from support across the Sandpoint team," said Kerry Olson, Daher's director of Kodiak operations and site leader at Sandpoint. "The parallel production came online ahead of schedule, which is another point of pride for everyone at the facility." Along with increased production capacity, Daher shared there are other improvements implemented at Sandpoint, including an investment of $2.7 million in a 9,000-square-foot aircraft painting facility to streamline the production process and improve the build quality for the Kodiak series. To date, 330 Kodiak 100s and 900s have been delivered to owners and operators globally. The Kodiak 900 was unveiled in 2022 and has improvements to the cruise speed and useful load. The Kodiak 100 has also seen improvements, including upgraded quality and comprehensive maintenance coverage. Daher will be a presence this week at Sun ‘n Fun, displaying a Kodiak 100 along with a TBM 960. The 2024 TBM 960 model incorporates new updates for enhanced pilot awareness and a lower workload, along with an updated paint scheme. The aircraft boasts a Sirocco livery, with shimmering silver and matte blue and black highlights. The digitally controlled TBM 960 is the fastest-selling version of all the members in our TBM aircraft family, and it continues as a market reference in terms of safety and efficiency," Chabbert said. "This is underscored by our backlog that exceeds two years of production, with some 120 TBM 960s delivered to date." Another new functionality is the graphical weight and balance presentation on the cockpit's multifunction display. The aircraft's taxi phase is also improved with 3D SafeTaxi. Alert messages will increase the pilot's awareness and stabilized approach monitoring will strengthen the visual effects of the primary flight display. The TBM 960s exterior will also showcase a new feature, with the LED nose gear landing light. Flight club expanding On Tuesday Flight Club announced it was expanding into the U.S., transforming the aviation landscape and offering pilots flexibility and affordability while helping them to reduce ownership costs and potentially generate profit from planes. Flight Club launched in Canada in 2020 and has developed a community of over 3,000 users with a fleet of 60 aircraft coast to coast with over 10,000 hours. "We're excited to empower US pilots with the ultimate flexibility in aircraft rentals," Flight Club Co-founder and CEO Matthew Fernandez said. "Our platform offers a seamless solution for longer trips, weekend adventures, and building flight hours at a fraction of the cost." Flight Club offers pilots incredible savings of an average of $40 per hour on aircraft rentals. The club offers pilots flexibility, community and freedom. For owners, the club can offer reduced ownership costs, potential for profit and community. The expansion into the U.S. will allow for 40 aircraft to join within the first two months as it expands its presence rapidly over the next year. Warbirds 20 under 40 Submit your application for the Warbirds 20 under 40 program, operated under the National Warbirds Operators Conference, to be recognized at Oshkosh 2024. People involved in all things warbirds, from ground crew to museum staff. Anyone under the age of 40 working as mechanics, pilots, photographers, staff, museum staff, ground crew, airshow organizers and announcers, can apply by June 15. Members said cash donations will help pay for the physical awards and "in kind" opportunities an be presented to the winners.RELATED STORIES:Celebrating 60 years of the Beechcraft King Air at Sun 'n FunTL Sport Sparker available in the US, ready for SUN 'N FUN Textron King Air celebrates its anniversary As Sun ‘n Fun celebrates 50 years, the Beechcraft King Air series is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The King Air turboprop was introduced in 1964 and has surpassed 64 million flight hours and 7,700 deliveries to customers. The King Air family has served roles in all branches of the U.S. military and flown commercial and special missions globally. Textron is bringing an impressive lineup to the Sun ‘n Fun event, including the Cessna Skyhawk, Cessna Turbo Skylane, Cessna Caravan, Beechcraft King Air 360 and Cessna Citation M2 Gen2. McCauley Propeller Systems will have four propellers on display, including a 5-blade C1106 for the Beechcraft Denali, a fixed pitch, two two-blade constant speed and a three-blade constant speed propeller. Textron eAviation will also showcase a range of Pipistrel aircraft including the Velis Electro, Alpha Trainer and Panthera. TL Sport Sparker TL Sport Aircraft will be attending Sun ‘n Fun with its Sparker. The ultralight aircraft is capable of hitting 200 mph at cruise and is MOSAIC-ready and available in the U.S. The Sparker will be on display April 9-12. The ultralight completed the E-AB program, which consists of a series of flights, including multiple demonstrations. Forums and workshops Attend forums like "How to Co-Exist with Weather", "Top Five Accident Causes" and "Mastering GPS Procedures." These educational forums are held in the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, the on-site aviation-based high school. Attendees can gain knowledge on a range of aviation topics with presenters coming in to share information and offer guidance. After you attend a forum, head over to participate in a hands-on workshop. The workshops are fun by amateur homebuilders and professional instructors, offering experience and insight into what they are presenting. Workshops include fabric covering aircraft, electrical noise and troubleshooting, metal shaping, welding oxyacetylene and woodworking. Many of these workshops are FAA-approved for IA renewal and take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.Presenters and special guests come from all over, including Miss America 2024. Miss America, also known as Air Force Second Lieutenant Madison March, will be at the event on April 9 and 10. Marsh will provide input at the Women ACEs breakfast on April 10, then provide insight for the Junior ACEs program. Marsh will be engaging with attendees at the USAF Aim HIgh Flight School Exhibit at the Future 'n Flight Plaza and kick off the Wednesday airshow with an official welcome.Marsh is the first active-duty service member to be crowned Miss America. After graduating from the USAF Academy in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in physics, Marsh was commissioned as an officer in the USAF. As her first assignment, Marsh began pursuing her master's in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School through the Air Force Institute of Technology's Civilian Institution Program. Something for everyone There is something to do for everyone, young and old, new to the industry or veterans. For those looking to enter the aviation industry or start a new career, attend the Career Fair. The career fair is daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Future ‘n Flight Plaza. Employers participating cover a range of sectors in the industry. The employers include Cirrus Aircraft, Frontier Airlines, JFfirm.com, Piedmont Airlines, Safran Power USA CF, Skyborne Airline Academy, Southwest Airlines and Vista America. Sun ‘n Fun has something fun for the whole family. The Junior ACEs can enjoy activities like 3D printing, flight simulation, building an airplane and coding skills. Parents can enjoy a night to themselves while the kids hang out at the Kids Club. Every night, from 5-10 p.m., kids can enjoy a range of activities while the parents have time alone. Kids can enjoy an opening night country hoedown, fireworks, airplane flying contests, a parachute army hunt, snacks, a bucket toss and dance party throughout the week. The club is available for kids ages two to 10 and tickets are $40 per child with dinner and snacks included. Evening events The fun doesn't stop once the sun goes down. Every evening will be filled with airshows, entertainment, fundraising events, an aerial circus, food and movies. Opening night will start the week off with a concert. There will be airshows and fireworks to enjoy on Wednesday and Saturday. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings will feature an aerial circus. Hang out at the hangar nightly for a movie, many presented by notable aviation legends like the Thunderbirds and Patty Wagstaff. This year will feature many of the same events that bring guests back to celebrate annually. Enjoy a week of airshows, exhibits, displays, food, drinks, flying and fun, all while celebrating 50 years of Sun ‘n Fun.
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