Aside from holding Florida’s Annual Strawberry Festival, Plant City also offers a variety of other annual events that attract visitors from all over the country as well as form international destinations. One of the most popular is Lakeland’s Fun & Sun which is a fly-in – an organized gathering of aircraft, pilots and passengers coming together for both recreational, educational and social purposes – and air show. This has been held annually from 1974 at Lakeland’s Linder Regional Airport, a short and accessible drive from Plant City Florida, taking place around the middle of April.
This is run mainly be volunteers however the event does have a small annual staff who work tirelessly each year to ensure the festival provides fun and entertainment for all ages whether the individual is involved in the aviation industry or simply an amateur enthusiast. Their logo is instantly recognizable consisting of the key words ‘Sun n Fun’ with images of a plane & the sun against a palm tree backdrop giving the perfect epitome for the event and the state in which it is held. Those who actively participate fly in from all over North America including Canada in their own aircraft and these come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and styles from vintage planes to ex-military aircraft and there are even those who have constructed their own homemade planes from scratch!
The organization’s main aim is to preserve and enhance the future of flying while inspiring and educating people from all walks of life which certainly looks set to continue with the recently completed new Central Florida Aerospace Academy. This was built thanks to a 2010 grant of around $7.5M from the Aviation Education Foundation and was originally a high school and career academy with around 170 students that was situated in the grounds of the airport itself but the new improved version will accommodate up to 500 students with a passion for aviation. The campus is also home to the state’s official aviation exhibit and education center at the Florida Air Museum.
As well as the main annual festival, the organization runs regular fly-in events several weekends a year and also specialized events such as the Wings n Things Youth event and the Veteran’s Celebration weekend. The latter is held in November over two days and is part fund raiser, part concert with music for patriots this year being provided mainly by the Imperial Symphony Orchestra Pops. The Florida Air Museum hosts the former which is a 3-day camping weekend designed to showcase the wonders of aviation for young people aged from 5 to 18. Experts and amateurs combine to share their knowledge and passion with children and families with guest speakers ranging from the Royal Rangers and Boy/Girl Scout associations to NASA personnel. This is a fun packed weekend with a wide variety of activities including museum tours, map quest challenges, an astrology demonstration and of course all things aviation-orientated. From flight simulators to rocket building and launch, there is certainly something to suit all ages and interests.