Volunteers Vital to Sun 'n Fun
Last updated 4/7/2019 at 10:07am
Hosting 200,000 guests is a big undertaking. More than 2,000 volunteers helped make things happen at the 45th Annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-in & Expo at Lakeland's Linder Airport April 2-7. They shuttle guests in golf carts, offer hospitality as greeters and serve in many different roles, selling tickets, checking wristbands and helping with media or in a variety of logistical jobs.
Jack Madden from Frostproof has been volunteering for eight years. He and wife Sandy moved from Key Largo to the Lake Clinch Aviation community in 2004. They enjoy short trips especially around Florida in their Piper Pacer. Sandy also is active as president of the local Audubon Society.
Madden was a commercial pilot for Eastern and Pan Am airlines and still holds credentials as a flight instructor.
Before choosing Lake Clinch Madden said he sent a letter to all of the owners to make sure the aviation community was right for his family.
"I like the feel that it's not completely out in the country, but it's private," Madden said, noting most of the homeowners are retired and the vast majority are pilots.
Another volunteer at Sun 'n Fun is Bob Curtis of Edgewater, near Daytona Beach. Curtis is considered a "Pioneer" by the air show and 2019 was his 44th year volunteering. He only missed the very first Sun 'n Fun. As a Pioneer, Curtis said he gets a free campsite and some other perks.
Curtis still enjoys flying his vintage 1946 Aeronca Chief, a wood-framed airplane covered in fabric. The Chief was designed for flight training and personal use and last manufactured in 1950.
"Every year I think it will be my last time here and ever year I keep coming back," Curtis said.
Volunteering is a good way to get to see the air show for free. Most volunteers work half-day shifts and then can enjoy the exhibits and shows the rest of the day. The 2020 show is scheduled for March 31 to April 5. Interested volunteers can find postings for specific "jobs" and apply online at https://www.flysnf.org/ In addition to the fly-in and pre-expo early bird opportunities, the organization has a "Yearly Bird" program for support throughout the year.