Sun ‘N Fun – 2016


My buddy Mike invited me to go to Sun N Fun with him in his RV-7. Well, actually, it was my idea! We intended to go last year, but schedules didn’t work out. This year everything came together (except media passes, but thats another story). Weather forced us to go early, and we packed up bright and early on a Wednesday morning April 6th. The RV-7 holds a ton of gear. We decided sharing a tent was for paupers, so I brought a separate three man tent.

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Plenty of room for Mike’s bimmer and my wife’s Mazda.

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It was early, but we were bright eyed and bushy tailed.

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The flight down was absolutely wonderful. The early morning air was silk smooth, and we had a slight tail wind for about a third of the journey. The visibility and scenery was quite spectacular.

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Darlington Race Track below!

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Mike has never been to South Carolina! one of the greatest state’s in the union, and home of my alma mater, The Citadel!

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We stopped in Baxley Georgia for cheap ($3.00) fuel and free food. The folks at the FBO were extremely nice, and the FBO is well appointed. There are two bedrooms upstairs that are available on a first come first serve basis.

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Here is one of the bedrooms. The other one had a queen or king size bed. Both had individual bathrooms! I’d definitely stay over night here if I was on a long haul.

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I did have a scare at Baxley. I thought I had left my wallet in Maryland. Mike captured the epiphany well.

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But, alas, I found it. It slipped out of my pocket. Thank heavens. I was not looking forward to being without my wallet.

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We once again attempted to capture our arrival. This time, the failure was Mike’s fault. The GoPro footage was very cloudy, so we didn’t have much to show. Once on the ground we set up camp.

Here is Mike’s tent. Note that the boy scout put his rain fly on backwards. It rained the first night. Draw your own conclusions about his interior.

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My tent, on the other hand, while cheap was assembled properly and stayed perfectly dry.

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Plenty of room inside!

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Time to get our drink on! First thing you’ll notice about Sun N Fun versus Oshkosh is that the food is far superior, and the alcohol is far more plentiful! Both big pluses for Sun N Fun!

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We tooled around to all the exibits. Here is the now famous RV-8R with the Rotec radial engine. This is fantastic craftsmanship! I love the detail on the interior.

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Mitch Lock’s RV-14 was also on display. Sorry folks, but I don’t get the RV-14. Its a huge price premium on an RV-7 for only a little more capability. Maybe its because I’m only 5’6″ and 135lbs, but I’d be perfectly fine with an RV-7.

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Mike and Chad Jensen. Second time I’ve met Chad. Super nice guy, and he hooked us up with t-shirts and hats!

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The Vertical Power booth had a school project in their booth. Say hello to a homebrewed MFD PFD using the Raspberry Pi! Here is the next revolution in experimental aviation. Role your own avionics. Its coming folks, and its going to be yet another revolution.

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We stopped by GRT and Garmin. My two top contenders for avionics in my RV-8. I love the Garmin gear. Its well integrated, beautifully designed, and includes a ton of functionality. However, I came into the show wanting GRT. I was really impressed by GRT’s attitude and the time they took to talk with us. Garmin’s business practices make me a little off-put, but I can’t blame them. I would do exactly what they are doing were I in their shoes.

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GRT is brewing a cheaper TSO compliant GPS. Tentatively available this winter. Combined with a NAV/COM radio, you’re looking at a 50% reduction from a Garmin 650. I’ll be watching this closely.

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I recently graduated with my MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. One of my fellow classmates, Robert, owns the restaurant at Lakeland. He is also a former Florida State Wide Receiver. The food at Hallback’s Grill was phenomenal. I highly recommend stopping here for a bite to eat if you fly through the area.

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I noticed that Patty Wagstaff was flying the Extra LX330. This is going to be the inspiration for my paint scheme, and I had to go check out the plane.

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Our timing was perfect, as Patty Wagstaff happened to be walking by!

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Mike is proud of his self appointed call sign of “half price.” You can’t have a call sign you like. Plus, this one is no longer accurate.

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Getting around Sun N Fun is easy. Its smaller than Osh, but still plenty to see.

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Without a doubt, the best part of Sun N Fun is the Homebuilt Camping set up by Mary Jane. She and her volunteers provide three meals a day, coolers full of beer, water, and sodas. Coffee and donuts in the morning, and all paid for by donations. On Friday night Mary Jane set up a Steak or Salmon dinner. I had the Salmon, and it was phenomenal.IMG_9986

We were able to kick back, drink some Yuengling, and enjoy the airshows.

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We took off for the North on Saturday. I’m glad we split the return trip into two days. We were pretty tired from the event.

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The trip from Lakeland to north of Atlanta had a strong headwind and a lot of turbulence. It wasn’t a fun trip. Here our the happy-turbulence faces.

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On our way up back north, I snapped this photo. My wife is a horse-nut, and I wanted to show her how many tracks there are in the Ocala area. There are actually more tracks than arrows!

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We stopped north of Atlanta to visit one of my classmate’s, and one of the best guys on the planet, Justin Katko. I hadn’t seen Justin since his wedding three years ago. It was great to reconnect, and Mike made a new friend for life!

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Here’s Justin and I before we departed to the north the next day. 20160410_103517(0)

Overall Sun N Fun was spectacular. For me, I much prefer this event over Oshkosh. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy Osh, but Sun N Fun is more my style. More laid back, great time of year, fantastic food, readily available alcohol, and less crowds. All things I love. All the main exhibitors are there, and the airshows are essentially the same. However, the number of experimentals is far smaller, and there is less of many things. Each are different, and awesome in their own right, but Sun N Fun is hard to beat!

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