Ghosts of Sun n Fun Past

The Sun n Fun fly-in and aviation expo extraordinaire is happening NOW in sunny Lakeland, Florida!

I had had high hopes of attending this year’s Sun n Fun festivities. Alas, I am not there to partake. Things here at Airplanology HQ have been fairly hectic of late. But with any luck I’ll be at Sun n Fun 2015…

Since I can’t be there this year, I will re-live years past through photographs. Enjoy a few raw pics from the ghosts of Sun n Fun past.

F4U Corsair, SnF 2008

F4U Corsair, SnF 2008

Flagship Detroit, SnF 2009

Flagship Detroit, SnF 2009

Consolidated B-24 Liberator Ol' 927

Consolidated B-24 Liberator Ol’ 927

Ol' 927 airborne

Ol’ 927 airborne


F-22 Raptor

F-22 Raptor, SnF 2011



From the Sun n Fun: Piaggio Royal Gull

From my friend Julie at the Sun n Fun, enjoy this picture of a Piaggio P.136 Royal Gull!

Piaggio Royal Gull

Piaggio Royal Gull

Built by the Italian firm Piaggio (who are still making a sexy twin-pusher) in the late 1940’s for maritime patrol and rescue missions, the Royal Gull is a rare sight to see. Wikipedia claims that 63 were built; I can’t corroborate that anywhere else at the moment, but that seems plausible…

I have only ever seen one Royal Gull myself, at Oshkosh 2012; I wonder if this is the same P.136 at Sun n Fun.

Thanks to Julie V. for the photo!

If you have a photo from Sun n Fun you’d like to share, let me know! Drop by my facebook page, tweet @airplanology, or email airplanology at gmail dot com!


From the Sun n Fun: Dodson Intl’s Turbine DC-3!

Courtesy of the fine folks at Dodson International comes this beautiful photo of their turbine-powered DC-3!


What a beautiful airplane! If you’re at Sun n Fun 2013, you can go visit Dodson and see her for yourself in all her turbine glory. The DC-3 is a beast with the radial engines on her; but these turbine conversions are just awesome flying machines.

If you have a Sun n Fun photo you’d like to share on Airplanology, tweet me @airplanology, shoot me an email to airplanology at gmail dot com, and comment on my facebook page!

Aviation Photo of the Day: Black Diamonds!

Today’s aviation photo features the awesome power of the Czech-made L-39 Albatros, as flown by the Black Diamond Jet Team!


The Black Diamond Jet Team were formerly known as the Heavy Metal Jet Team. Since the first time I saw them they’ve added two MiG-17 fighters to their arsenal of L-39’s.

Given a choice to fly either one for fun, it seems like the MiG would be the better choice. The MiG-17 has a lot more power available and climbs like a bat out of hell at almost 13,000 feet per minute. This leaves the L-39 in the dust as its best climb is about 4,000 feet per minute. Furthermore, the MiG has an afterburner and can scream along at just over 600 knots; the L-39 prefers a more sedate 400 or so.

On the other hand, the L-39 is accessible and (relatively) affordable. L-39’s are available used at under $300,000, which for a fighter jet is pretty inexpensive. They also have a reputation for being well-built, sturdy airplanes that don’t require a lot of fuss to operate.   If I was looking to jet around in style I’d probably pick the L-39. Any yahoo can show up in a rented Citation; a real man (or woman) shows up in a fighter jet. it might make your $100 hamburger into a $1000 hamburger, but the fun you would have would be well worth the extra cost.

Here’s hoping that the Black Diamonds have a long and successful airshow career as the first and best civilian jet demo team in America! Go show them some love. They’ll be at Sun n Fun ’13, and if they come to an airshow near you go see ’em. You won’t regret it.




Aviation Photo of the Day: Thunderbirds (Stop the Sequester!)

From my photo archives, the USAF Thunderbirds as seen at the always awesome Sun-n-Fun fly in!



The Thunderbirds are one of the finest flying teams in the world today. Their close-in formation flying and precision team aerobatics are amazing. The level of precision with which they fly is inspiring. The maneuvers they perform are splendid demonstrations of how beautiful the interaction between man and machine can be when it is done right.

Sadly, the Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels may find their ability to perform hampered by congressional ineptitude. The dreaded Sequester is slated to go into effect on March 1, with across-the-board spending cuts eviscerating the capabilities of much of the federal government.

While we can all agree that federal spending needs to be controlled, Sequester is a terrible way to achieve this goal. Universal cuts that hack across all departments and most programs will be harmful to the country. My own aspirations to be an air traffic controller could be harmed as Sequester is going to cut about $600 million from the FAA budget. There are whisperings of a hiring or training freeze, and of controller furlough…not good for me or the traveling public.

If Congress were more like the Thunderbirds, they would work together to achieve a common goal. The Thunderbirds don’t all get to be Thunderbird One; but even Thunderbird Seven, on the ground, is an integral part of the team. They don’t always fly the same direction, but they always work together, and even when they’re flying diverging courses they work as a team.

Instead, Congress is like a mid-air collision: two parties at cross purposes who fail to communicate and therefore end up ruining lives and destroying lots of valuable things. If our congress could learn to work together, or at LEAST to make a reasonable compromise, our nation would be that much stronger.

Keep our country strong and our demo teams flying! Write your congressman today and tell them that compromise is an art that will make us all stronger. Stop the Sequester and let’s get America back on track.

Aviation Photo of the Day: Beautiful RV-8!

Today’s aviation photo is pulled deep from the archives. I give you, from Sun n Fun Past, a gorgeous green RV-8!


Maybe the photo’s a little off center, but I really like the paint on this. The shade of green is unique and eye-catching and the white keeps it from being ‘too much.’ The swoosh suggests speed, which works well as this little monster can hit 220+ knots with a 200-horse engine.

Even if you opt for a less beastly 160hp engine, you can still hit 200+ knots. The RV-8 is +6/-3G capable, so it can do aerobatics. It can carry two souls plus bags, which is nice; you can bring a friend for the ride of a lifetime, bring a Special Friend for a weekend getaway, or bring an instructor to learn how to harness the awesome aerodynamics of Mr. VanGrunsven’s design.

The RV’s are all masterfully designed airplanes, and this one in particular caught my eye. Many kudos to the builder of this fine machine.


Aviation Photo of the Day: C-190, kicking up some dust!


Aviation Photo of the Day: C-190, kicking up some dust!

A Cessna 190 kicks up a little dust at Sun n Fun!

These gorgeous old taildraggers are instantly recognizable. While a lot of taildraggers look like the “typical” small GA airplane, the 190 is like a stretch limousine. Long, elegant, tall, with that big noisy round engine hanging off the front of it, the 190 was the bizjet of its day. They just don’t make ’em like this any more.

Aviation Photo of the Day: Powered Parachutes!

Today’s photo comes to you from my archives, way back in 2008.


Powered parachutes at Sun n Fun 2008.

Like most airshows I’ve been to the Sun n Fun is a good mix of aircraft, from military fighters with super-advanced technology to rag-and-wood trainers from the earliest days of flight. There is an endless variety of classic airplanes, new airplanes, civil airplanes, business jets, and helicopters.

But one of my favorite things about Sun n Fun is that the ultralight runway takes off over the parking lot. People walking in or out can see, hear, and experience the ultralights in a much closer way than they can the other aircraft. Looking overhead you can see everything from powered parachutes to kitplanes that resemble LSAs or “regular” aircraft flying over. Especially at the end of the day, when the sun is low and the crowds are leaving, there’s something very magical and primal about seeing these tiny flying machines swooping around over the airshow crowds.

Flying long distances at high speeds is an impressive feat of engineering, but I still think that short distances and low speeds are part of the primoridal soul that makes aviation what it is. The simple thrill of looking down and realizing that you’ve achieved the ancient dream of man is more awe-inspiring to me than looking at blotches of color from 40,000 feet. The joy of flight is looking out the window and realizing that you can fly, not programming a G3000 to fly the airplane for you.

Low and slow, baby…low and slow.

Aviation Photo of the Day: F4U Corsair

Today’s aviation photo of the day: The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair!

F4U Corsair at Sun n Fun 2011

With its unique folding gull wings, distinctive bubble canopy, long cowling, and intimidating stance, the Corsair is an unmistakable presence on any ramp or at any airshow. Larger than life and elegantly utilitarian, it is eye candy for those of us who love flying machines. The beastly engine under that long cowling is a 2000 horsepower 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine which swings a 13-foot three-bladed prop, driving the Corsair upwards of 400 mph. The folding wings were designed for carrier operations, and the unique gull-shape in the wing is designed to help lift the nose of the aircraft so that massive 13-foot prop doesn’t hit the ground.

During its heyday the Corsair was a fearsome fighter. Initially, she started in the Pacific Theater of WWII as a flop. Quirky flying habits and a slowish climb rate made the Corsair difficult to use in combat. The gull wings, poor forward visibility, and radial engine spraying oil back towards the canopy made the Corsair especially challenging to land on carriers. However, once the Marines and Naval aviators figured out how to maximize the tactical advantages offered by its superior speed, excellent dive performance, and fine maneuverability, the Corsair developed a good air-to-air combat record. After WWII, the Corsair was used successfully for air combat and close air support in Korea.

While like many aviation enthusiasts I would probably choose the P-51 as the ultimate aircraft of World War II (and maybe ever) the F4U is an awesome machine. Watching the F4U perform, hearing and feeling that engine, and seeing it blast through the sky at speed is truly an unforgettable experience. Mastering this machine would take exceptional flying skills. Ground operations must be challenging, the aerodynamics apparently get a bit wonky,  and managing those two thousand horses under the cowl would be…well, challenging but awesome. I get a testosterone rush pushing my dinky 180hp Archer forward; firewalling 2,000 horses would make me laugh like a maniac.


Like this photo? I made it my background on the Fly With Ben Facebook page!