Sun-n-Fun is the biggest airshow I’ve had the pleasure of attending so far, and situated right smack dab in the middle of sunny, beautiful Florida. My home state.
Last year was the first time I ever went, and I naively thought one day would be enough. There was so much to see that I didn’t get to see everything it had to offer. So, 2016 and I planned for three glorious days to take in all of the sights. I hate to say it, but I really needed a week. Next year, I’ll be there all week if at all possible.
There’s so much to see on the ground and in the air, and the flying schedule changes daily. If you miss a day, you might miss an awesome performance.
I have this vision of perusing the fly-in folks and their marvelous planes, and spending time talking with each of them. I’d love to compile a book with all of their marvelous stories about their wonderful flying machines. How awesome would that be to share the history, the restorations, and the family hand-downs that were lovingly cared for? What do they affectionately call their gift of wings?
Awe, the stories that could be told about each and every one. I long to meander through the rows of planes and strike up a conversation so I can hear their incredible tales! That day may yet come, but I certainly didn’t allocate enough time this year to do that. In my head, I thought it could happen but with my camera pointed towards a plane or at the sky for every low flying aircraft that caught my attention , I stayed completed distracted.
Planes! Glorious, marvelous planes and everywhere you look! Where do you start? How do you engage each one? Photographing these beauties, I love to talk to them. “Pose for me. God you’re gorgeous! How fast do you go? How many sunsets have you seen, or sunrises?” You might hear me say these things as I whisper to each one if you’re close when I have my camera in hand. “What a paint scheme you have, and oh, that name is perfect! How did you get that?”
The warbirds ramp is my favorite place. Magnificent planes, each with a rich history. They’ve seen war, they’ve seen death, and they’ve seen victory. Oh, the stories they could tell! You have to listen close, an engine starts, the prop turns and a puff of smoke surrounds them temporarily as the propeller quickly dissipates it. The huff, the puff, the purr of the engine as it comes alive again is music to my ears. I stop and stare.
A P51 Mustang enters the warbirds ramp, it’s in a paint scheme I’ve not seen before, camouflage with tip tanks, not shiny like so many Mustang’s I’ve seen but still beautiful and intimidating as she roars on to the ramp to settle down with the others. She’s a Cavalier. The first I’ve seen and she’s gorgeous. Every eye is on her as she parks. “Look at that? A Mustang? A Spitfire? Tip tanks?” You can hear the conversations as the engine quiets.
She left us envious as her pilot parked and got out. She’s just one of many on the ramp to catch your attention today.
Not long afterwards, my favorite Mustang’s arrived together and we got to watch them land. What a site that must have been in the air! The Stallion 51 Mustangs roll up on the taxiway. Crazy Horse, Mad Max and The Little Witch are show stoppers as they make their way to the ramp and park next to the Cavalier Mustang. What a spectacular gathering it is.
After wandering through several of the vendor tents, I perched me and my camera near the runway to watch the flurry of activity. I was impressed by the constant arrival and departure of planes. Some were here for the show, some were going to be in the show and some were giving rides. So many planes, so little time to photograph them all. Where to start? Where to go next? I was completely overwhelmed this year.
I spent time where the planes were displayed and tried hit them early when the crowds were less. I was in three different locations over three days in order to photograph the aerobatic performances. I was hoping that by doing so, I’d get some different views and get some good captures. I even decided to try different camera settings each day in order to see what settings might give the best results.
As expected, I could get sharper images but less prop blur if I increased the shutter speed. It’s hard to get a full prop blur and a sharp image, Your ratio of good to bad can be about 1 in 40 or 50. Some days it’s better than other days. I think it’s good to try different settings just so you can get different results. Sometimes I even switch to aperture priority and let it pick the shutter speed so I can have more sharp images to choose from. I always shoot jets on aperture but typically stay on shutter for prop planes.
The vast array of performances never cease to amaze the crowds. All different, all enjoyable and all will make your chest pound with excitement.
I was particularly excited to watch the Red Bull Air Race Demonstrations. It’s incredible and fast. I would love to attend one of the actual races.
As the sun set on a beautiful day, I smiled and thought about how amazing Sun-n-Fun is to visit. I enjoyed every minute of it, and hated to see it end. I felt like there was still so much to see and that there just wasn’t enough time. I can’t wait for next year. Sun-n-Fun comes at just the perfect time of year, when you’re tired of the cold and ready for some warm Florida sunshine and the incredible sound of airplane engines and the smell of avgas. It’s definitely worth the trip, no matter where you have to come from to get here. You won’t be disappointed.