When Sun-n-Fun was Really Fun.


Sun N Fun is the second largest airshow in the country, and it has been around for decades. It is held every spring in Lakeland Florida. Today it has been transformed into a Walt Disney style family spectator event, but long ago, it was the bastion of experimental aviation, and a ritualistic gathering of original ultralight characters.


Unlike today, where in the name of “make it nice, inoffensive and character free” airshows are promoted with images of yuppie families driving imported minivans to squeaky clean (and dull) events, There was a time where some events were actually fun for real people in aviation. The WW standard for “Fun” is a simple question: Would Pappy Boyington think this was entertaining? 


I attended every single Sun-n-fun from 1989-2015, I stayed all week at most of them. There was a golden period, now gone for a decade, never to return, where the Ultralight people easily would have met Pappy Boyington’s nocturnal approval. While there was an official Ultralight party every year, the whole week was a series of great evenings with the characters who made up the vibrant world of Ultralights.



Above, witness a historical aviation artifact of the first order, A one Gallon container for “Muzzle Loader” , a volatile moonshine made by the legendary Chuck Slusarczyk ( who is in the EAA hall of Fame)  The jug  is carefully preserved in my hangar, awaiting the day when the horrible trend trying to make everything ‘nice’ is reversed, and this jug can take its rightful place in the EAA museum.


Muzzle Loader was so potent it would take the bottom out of a white styrofoam cup in 5 seconds, yet it was willingly consumed by hundreds of revelers at the Ultralight parties in the 1990s. Chucks rock band, complete with background singers in choir robes, would hammer out classic covers like “Sweet Home Alabama”  and originals like the “Zooming'” song.  Most people know I very rarely drink anything at airshows. People guess at the reason, buy its this simple: nothing today could hold a candle to an evening lead by Chuck Slusarczyk, so there really isn’t much point in trying.



Above, screwed to my hangar wall, an official sign for one of the later parties. At the early ones the beer was free, provided by a local distributor. Lakeland is in Polk county, a particularly hard core blue collar, place that breeds a very strong party mentality. The Ultralight party was known for attracting dozens of Polk county’s most fun women, many of whom would be there as groupies year after year.



Muzzle Loader is good for you, just read the label.  One year I coined the phrase “Muzzle Loader – Liquid Dignity Remover by Slusarczyk” and Gus Warren printed very popular shirts which bore this motto.



Yes, some things need a warning label.



Different Years came in different flavors: this was a 2001 jug, that year Chuck made 17 gallons of “Black Bury Falver” , which was patterned after a family 1927 recipe.


Above, My Pietenpol at the last hours of Sun n Fun 1996. From L to R, Gus Warren, Steve Upson and a much younger version of me. The smiles are strained, we had spent the previous night at the Ultralight party. The Photo was taken by EAA’s Mary Jones, who had the great fortune of being close friends with many of the original 1980s Ultralight people. I consider myself fortunate to have had fun with them in the 1990s, today, this type of fun is just a memory from a different era. 




About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

5 Responses to When Sun-n-Fun was Really Fun.

  1. Ron Leclerc says:

    Those were the good old days…what we called that stuff up here(Canada)… is “porch climber”!!!
    Great stuff and cures what ales you…

  2. Dan -o says:

    Ah the good old days!

  3. Marshall says:

    What I’m hearing is…… I need a private airstrip, a stage and a bunk house. That’s what I’m hearing.

  4. Arnold Holmes says:

    While I never had the SNF version of muzzleloader, William and I did consume enough of the Oshkosh version. One time I found myself with half my clothes off laying in the soft green pasture next to the chapel wondering how I got there. Another time we road a bus back to camp from the party and had the whole bus singing the Flintstones theme song, I believe chuck S was on that bus as well.

    There will never be times like that at Oshkosh again, they have decided to make it too sanitary.

    • Ahh, good times. It was Chuck who was the band leader for all of us singing the Flintstones theme. Remember we were all dropped off by the Red Barn next to ultralights, we each tried to hurtle a chain stretched across the road and each in turn did an ‘agony of defeat’ wipe out. I remember discovering the next day that the chain which seemed about 5’ tall the night before was actually about 16” off the ground.

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