The Tragedy of Sun N Fun

Yesterday will long live in the memories of many of the homebuilders who flew their airplanes into Sun N Fun this week. For those who survived the devastation, they will always be grateful. For the builders who lost their planes…, well, they will enter a fairly long period of repair, or they will have to start all over again.

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The tragedy of yesterday is not the loss of airplanes; it is the loss of homebuilt airplanes.  

If all the airplanes lost yesterday were “spam-cans” out of Vero or Wichita, the loss would still be devastating. The planes lost yesterday, however, were not production planes. The owner could replace a production plane in a couple of weeks or months with another unit off the end of the production line.

No, the majority of aircraft lost were, every plane, unique to the owner–because the owners lovingly created each by hand. Instead of rolling off the end of an assembly line looking much like the preceding and subsequent unit, every airplane lost was in the truest sense of the word, a treasure. Some may have been of the same type, but no two were the exact copies, as you would find on a production line.

Each airplane lost represents a very somber event in the life of the builder-owner pilot. This is the kind of event that will very likely mark those homebuilders for the rest of their lives. Responses from each will range the gamut from giving up forever to starting a new project as soon as they get home. It all depends on the personality of the individual.

In all, those who were at the Lakeland Airport on Thursday during the horrific storms were very lucky. Yes, there was a great deal of property loss; but the one important thing and the good news is that no one died.

As terrible as losing airplanes might be, it is joyous no one died.

Today dawned brighter and drier over LAL. The Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team is set to perform a practice show in preparation for their weekend aerial displays.

No doubt, the mood of the event will be a little more solemn. Some may continue to be picking up the pieces. 

Still, the show, and life, must go on.


© J. Clark 2011

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