2012 will be my 24th consecutive year at Sun N Fun. The aviation event has long been known as an exchange point of information and parts for homebuilders. Long before it evolved into the major air show with many different facets that it is today, Sun N Fun was built around a core group of homebuilders, ultralight people, and antique aircraft fans. The air show has always devoted a lot of space and effort to education. The workshops and forum areas have always been given a high priority, even as the air show has evolved to a more commercial setting.
For the past 17 years I have given forums on Corvair engines at Sun N Fun. Over the years these have evolved from being delivered in the Contact! magazine engine forum tent, to now being delivered in the three-story Education Center. Over the past 24 years I’ve watched Sun N Fun evolve and change in many different ways. At any major air show it is very easy to point out elements of it that don’t appeal to you. But you should never allow the fact that corporate jets are also there deter you from attending an air show where you have a really good chance to learn a lot of information, make new friends and make progress on your own homebuilt project. For all the other changes at Sun N Fun, it still offers an excellent opportunity for homebuilders, and particularly Corvair fans, to cover these three points.
As we have done in previous years we have our own commercial booth at Sun N Fun, NO-34, located on the runway side of Building C. If you’re not familiar with the location, it doesn’t matter as you can always look it up in the official program under FlyCorvair.com. We will be manning this booth every day of the air show and I will be on hand to answer any question Corvair builders have. We will have many new items on display and be able to cover technical questions with all the hardware at hand. As with every other air show we attend, we will have a full complement of the parts that are in our regular catalog. If there is anything special you would like to pick up, please e-mail us in advance and we will put your name on it and you can get it while you’re there. One of the featured items that we are bringing in quantity this year are our Electronic/Points Distributors; we will have plenty of them for sale and I will be giving specific pointers on their installation and timing in Corvair engines. If you’d like to pick one up at the show, they’re an easy item to take home with you.
As we always do, we will be glad to inspect any builder’s engine component that he brings to the show. Often it’s something simple that you can carry in and let us get a look at. Other times, we will be glad to walk out to your pickup truck in the parking lot after hours and get a good look at a core motor, a pair of heads, anything you care to bring. As many people know, we are planning on having Corvair College #23 in Florida the second week in June. We will have more details on this College at Sun N Fun. CC #23 is going to be marked by an enormous amount of hard-core engine building. If you’re planning on attending #23, I highly encourage you to bring every part you can with you to Sun N Fun to allow us to pre-inspect it and come up with a personal game plan for you to make as much progress as possible at the upcoming College. We are going to run a large group of crankshafts through the nitriding and grinding process before the College. If you would like to get in on this, bring your crank along to Sun N Fun. Additionally, we are going to get a lot of case prep work done beforehand, so builders arriving at #23 will have everything lined up to jump right into assembly. Although they are separate events, Sun N Fun will be the launchpad for some of the most productive builders at CC #23.
Through Contact! magazine we have again been lined up to give several forums on the Corvair in Room 10 of the Education Center Building, now known as the Central Florida Aerospace Academy. They are as follows:
11 a.m. Wednesday, March 28th,
11 a.m. Thursday, March 29th, and
11 a.m. Friday, March 30th, 2012.
On the social side, we are jointly hosting the Corvair barbecue with Dan and Rachel Weseman of SPA on Friday evening. Stop by our air show booth anytime during the week and we will get you directions to the exact location where it is being held in the campground. Last year, we had an excellent turnout of people and a grand time and we hope to see many of the same friends and some new ones also. The barbecue has always been an excellent place to get to know other people who are fans of the same engine you are, and in many cases building the same airframe. Many of the best memories I have of Sun N Fun took place at barbecues in the campground. Don’t miss this year’s cookout.
With a few days before the event, I feel particularly optimistic about Sun N Fun. As many people know, the event has had a significant change in management in the past year. The new president is a serious aviator, and represents a powerful new force to reorganize the old institution. One man does not correct all the flaws of a 38-year-old giant air show in six months of work. But it is fair to say that John Leenhouts has put a titanic effort into redirecting the focus of Sun N Fun to making sure that every person attending gets the best experience possible. It may take two or even three years before most of his ideas can be put into noticeable effect, and he will always have to contend with TSA required security measures that make every airport seem less friendly. But we have great hopes that the air show that we have been a part of for more than two decades will have real and permanent improvements under his leadership.