Tue, Apr 12, 2005
A Veteran's First Take
ANN Correspondent John Ballantyne
This warm Florida sunshine feels really good to many of us who
traveled from the still-winter beset north! I'm glad to be
Still, I have had some passing thoughts of letting this one
slide by and saving the money, effort and hassle of another Sun 'n
Fun. Trips like this require a huge amount of preparation by anyone
who comes, especially for exhibitors, performers and presenters.
Anyway, here I am and here is what I see on setup day.
First time airshow goers are walking around with a sense of
great anticipation. Vendors are frantically moving boxes, arranging
tables, and lifting their colorful signs into the air. How can
there be so many of them? Who could not be swept away with the
anticipation of a full week of flying, watching flying and talking
about flying? The setup activity reveals the many exhibitors,
presentations and displays to savor in upcoming days. So much to do
and only so much that one's legs can handle. You can identify the
folks who are thinking this way by their excited, sprightly step
and attempts to look everywhere at once as if trying to take it all
in with big visual gulps. Boy, now I'm glad to be here.
Then I see a few grizzled veterans of major airshows. They
illustrate only a little anticipation. Their exhilaration has been
tempered with past experience of cold, rained out days, high costs
for everything, and the likelihood that it won't all be enjoyable.
Experience has ingrained a sense of reservation and maturity,
perhaps like a little kid who has grown past the informative years.
These folks can be identified by the somewhat glazed look in their
eyes as their imagination tries to reach into the future to uncover
what the week will hold. They know it will bring some really great
stuff, and maybe some really tragic stuff. This group also includes
exhibitors who will work hard, long hours each day to peddle their
wares in an attempt to make money in aviation (almost unheard of so
far). Maybe I should just go home right now.
Coming from a history of twenty-some years of Sun 'n Funs, I
observe a general activity rate similar to past years. While there
is nothing that immediately jumped out as bold and new, some things
will bear watching (and reporting) during the week. Most of all,
however, is the opportunity to visit with the many with whom past
years have been shared. Chronic airshow goers definitely have a
bond with others who regularly attend. They become family. Talk of
the kids' growing up and things that have happened during the year
begin to invade the pervasive background of aviation.
Boy, am I glad that I am here. But it was a little touch and go
for a while there…
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