Sun 'N Fun Soars With Help From 152 CAP Members
Fla., Ky., Minn. and N.Y. Members Provide Assistance During Massive Air Show
By Capt. Sybrian Castleman
Public Affairs Officer
Well over 100 volunteers from four Civil Air Patrol wings converged on Sun ‘n Fun at Florida’s Lakeland Linder Regional Airport to once again ensure the success of the world’s second largest fly-in, featuring acrobatic fliers, an industry trade show, aerospace-related exhibits and workshops.
More than 1,000 aircraft appeared this year, including 130 warbirds, 17 of which were P-51 Mustangs present to commemorate the fabled fighter plane’s 75th anniversary.
Providing exhibitions were the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force’s F-16 Thunderbird Angels, GEICO Skytypers, AeroShell Aerobatic Team and French Acrobatic Patrol.
In all, 152 members from the Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota and New York wings assisted the Federal Aviation Administration and Leidos Flight Service with overdue aircraft responses and emergency locator transmitter searches.
CAP members recorded a pair of finds – one an overdue aircraft, the other an ELT accidentally activated in an aircraft on the ground.
Taxiway safety duty forms a significant part of the assistance CAP volunteers provide at Sun ‘n Fun, as people attending the event are permitted to walk across active taxiways to access aircraft displays and vendor areas.
This year the Florida Wing’s Wesley Chapel Cadet Squadron Honor Guard was selected to provide part of the welcome escort team for veterans returning from Washington, D.C., on the Polk Flight of Honor. In addition, cadets and senior members were able to assist with the hot-air balloon launch and work with the U.S. Special Operations Command flag recovery team as part of the opening ceremonies jump.
Members were also able to participate in several “meet and greets” with pilots from some of the teams flying in the air show, including the Blue Angels. They were able as well to talk with CAP’s national commander, Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez; the Southeast Region’s commander, Col. Barry Melton, and chaplain, Chaplain, Lt. Col. Linda Pugsley, Tech. John Marino, CAP-USAF Liaison Region representative; and Lt. Col. Luis Garcia, incoming Florida Wing commander.
During his visit Vazquez was interviewed by Sun ‘N Fun Radio. He also presented two CAP Amelia Earhart Awards on the flight line to new Cadet Capts. Michael Bohn and Jay Nulph, both members of the Florida Wing’s Seminole Composite Squadron.
Every year at Sun ‘N Fun, one of the highlights for CAP cadets is a Friday night pizza party with visiting Royal Air Force Cadets from the United Kingdom. They use that opportunities to talk about the similarities and differences in their cadet programs, exchange trinkets and interact in a cultural exchange. Many on both sides have visited Sun ‘N Fun for several years, so they greet each other as old friends.