Sun 'n Fun scrambles for funds - FOX 13 News

Sun 'n Fun scrambles for funds

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The annual Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo puts Lakeland on the map among aviation enthusiasts near and far.

"It's meeting all the aviators from all across the world. I mean literally," pilot Brian Eurice told FOX 13.

Sun 'n Fun is a chance for Eurice to pass down his love for flying to his young sons Hayden and Carter.

But behind the scenes, at the air traffic control towers, Sun 'n Fun is feeling the effects of federal spending cuts.

"The FAA was not going to be able to afford to pay the travel costs for controllers to come down, as they normally would. $285,000," explain Sun 'n Fun CEO John Leenhouts.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association gave Sun 'n Fun $125,000, but there's still a ways to go.

"Lakeland Linder Airport, along with the City of Lakeland is going to help us with probably another substantial sum of money and leave Sun 'n Fun with something between $50,000 and $60,000 to pay," said Leenhouts.

Also, Lakeland Linder's control tower is slated to close in June because of the sequester. Some at Sun 'n Fun say that's a problem, while others aren't worried.

"It's very common for airports to not have air traffic control towers. We talk to each other on the radio and as long as things are done properly and everybody plays by the rules, it's a very safe system," said Eurice.

However, pilot Chip Moehlau, visiting from New York, is concerned.

"If there's an aviation crash, people get concerned," he said. "I know we had one in Buffalo a while ago and people are still talking about it."

But, most at the air show are focused on flight.

"It's got the old planes. It's got the jets. The people are fantastic. You get a chance to get close to the airplanes over here," plane enthusiast Mike Despelteau told FOX 13.

Sun 'n Fun continues through Sunday.

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