ANN's Completely Unscientific, but Sincere, Survey
By ANN Correspondent John Ballantyne
Sure, there are many awards and commendations showered on well
deserving individuals who excel at Lakeland each year. But it seems
that some always fall through the cracks. So ANN endeavored to
ferret out those individuals who get less credit than deserved, and
to again mention those who are the rocks on which ultralight and
light sport aviation are anchored. To accomplish this goal ANN
conducted an entirely unscientific, but thoughtful, series of
interviews with principal exhibitors, volunteers near the close of
the Lakeland fly-in, 2005.
It is worthwhile to note that no single individual or any
individual company came out as an overpowering star. Instead, the
consensus was that many powerful, helpful and capable folks are
repeatedly involved with this show. The names mentioned below are
certainly of leaders and upcoming stars as a portion of a team that
has been evolving over nearly three decades.
During this year's Sun 'n Fun, the flying in the ultralight area
resulted in no crashes nor personal injuries of any kind. Only two
aircraft landed off field and both did so without damage or
problem. One of those out-landings was a dummy who had simply run
out of gas. He was grounded for several days and is deserving of a
particular kind of award that is beyond the scope of this
journalistic venue. That was the worst that happened. Now let's
consider the best that happened. Well, wait a minute. Comments were
heard all week about the painful admission price increases and the
continuing hassles with camping sites and general on-field living
conditions. That story reaches show-wide, however, and is not
limited to the ultralight area.
Best Of Show
Gary Furdell was singled out as a principal individual who has
been conducting traffic pattern briefings for pilots for years. The
commendation ANN heard was that he has mellowed a little bit, which
was more pleasing and effective for those being briefed, without
Mike McClellan significantly grew and showed promise in just
five days of airshow announcing (commentating?) under the able
tutelage of Vernon Peckham. Vernon, for those don't know because
they have lived in a closet for the past couple of decades, is the
ubiquitous ultralight/light plane airshow "commentator" (he objects
to the term announcer). To be a protege of his is an honor all in
itself, and ANN heard that McClellan is deserving of that role.
Incidentally, McClellan was the first individual to obtain his
fixed-wing (three-axis) sport pilot certificate without prior FAA
certificates. Congratulations to McClellan.
Numerous comments were heard about the mature, responsible
manner that the pilots treated each other in the traffic pattern.
This is especially commendable because, unlike the familiar farm
field at home, Sun 'n Fun's ultralight area has a seriously
congested pattern were every pilot feels the pressure of the
cameras and hundreds of spectator eyes on every movement. It is
easy for those with little experience, or short on self-control, to
act up and show off. Well, OK, maybe there was a little
showing-off, but not in a way that reduced safety. ANN offers an
"Atta Boys & Girls" to you all.
Also often mentioned was the way that the many volunteer folks
worked together, had few disagreements internally, resolved those
few internal issues without rancor, and did a great job overall.
ANN congratulates each of them with the respect due especially
since not one of them can get a raise (no pay at all), nor become a
senior VP (this group is a simple collection of dedicated aviation
junkies), nor be granted "golden parachutes" after the show (they
just go home and sleep a week straight).
Finally, long-time ultralight airshow boss, Dave Piper, and
Exhibit Chairman, Ron Beretta, were given great marks for general
management of the ultralight area. These are not easy jobs. Many
unforeseen problems must be creatively resolved each year by these
individuals. They have earned the respect of their peers, and of
ANN, for their consistent, even-handed styles.
ANN congratulates all of these folks for a job well done. Flying
for fun is a wonderful sport and thanks to these folks is more
accessible because of their steady hands in the ultralight area at
Sun 'n Fun.