The Florida Air Museum’s 1936 Aeronca LB. The APM donated some much needed parts for the LeBlond engine to help in the restoration of this Aeronca.

“Where are we going today Mr. Peabody??”

“Well Sherman, set the WABAC machine for the year 1971, Thursday April 15th to be exact. “

That’s the date of the “1st Spring National AAA Fly-in “at…..Lakeland, FL!! Yes, you read that correctly, the aviation event commonly known these days as the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in and Expo began as an AAA Fly-in.

Of course since that initial event in 1971, the annual event at Lakeland has gone from being an AAA Fly-in, to an EAA fly-in, to its own independent entity and event. It still has a confusingly strong EAA feel to it, what with an AirVenture “mini-me” cloned style that includes parking and headquarter buildings for homebuilt, vintage & warbird areas, a daily airshow, a large vendor/tradeshow presence and an on-site museum, among a host of other similarities.

From the Sept. /Oct. 1971 issue of the International Antique Airplane News.

My visit to Lakeland this year was only my second and like my first a few years ago, was mostly predicated on a meeting I needed to attend. In this case that meeting was hosted by Mark Baker of the AOPA and was in regards to the ADS-B (or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) mandate that will affect all aircraft and go into effect come Jan 2020. This meeting was attended by the manufactures, various aviation organizations and the FAA. I will have a more complete report on what was discussed during this meeting and how it will impact our AAA members and the operations of their antique/classic aircraft in the upcoming issue of the Antique Airfield Runway.

Though my visit was short I did get to spend time perambulating the grounds, looking at airplanes and happily bumping into many AAA members.

So following is a small selection of the aircraft and sights from the 2015 Sun ‘n Fun.

Brent Taylor

From renowned Triple Tree Aerodrome in SC came the Reserve Grand Champion Antique, Pat Hartness’s 1938 Spartan 7W “Executive”.

Sarah Wilson’s (AAA #23904-life) 1929 Stearman 4E she calls “Buddy”.

The Best Custom Classic was this 1947 Piper PA-12.

We thought the wind tee (built by Ercoupers’ as a memorial to Mike “Cowboy” Abrahams) here at Antique Airfield was the most unique use of an Ercoupe we had seen, until we came across this simulator at Sun ‘n Fun.


Mark Gilmore’s (AAA #23356) awesome Marquart MA-5 “Charger” was chosen as the Grand Champion Plans Built Homebuilt.

Aviat’s display, complete with a new Husky on floats, was a hit with the kids, though that likely had more to do with getting to go “fishing” for rubber ducky’s !!

Colin Hales from Oxford, UK is on a world tour with this Rands KR2. We first met Colin at the Cactus Fly-in, Casa Grande, AZ in March. He has a very interesting and completely different approach to planning & flying this diminutive wood & foam legacy homebuilt around the world. If you get a chance to meet Colin or hear him speak about this flight, do not pass up the chance.

Ed Hoffman’s 1946 Warner powered Fairchild 24 from Tarpon Springs, FL.

The all wood original design “Woodpecker”, was the recipient of the Best Innovative Design Homebuilt award.