Severe spring storms ripped through much of Florida on Thursday, March 31, but much of the focus on the damage was centered around the annual Sun ‘n Fun Fly In taking place at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland. The aviation supershow was struck by severe thunderstorms, and possibly a tornado, damaging approximately 40-50 aircraft, and causing thousands of dollars in damage to property and exhibits. We ventured out to the grounds on Saturday to check out the air show headlined by the world famous US Navy flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels. We arrived 2 ½ hours prior to the scheduled 1:30 start to the air show, but just made it to the viewing area as the show began, after fighting traffic, trudging through the still muddy parking area, and standing in a long line to pay our $25 per person entry fee. The air show got off to a rocky start when the parachute team jump was canceled due to reported radio communication problems, and the highly anticipated F-22 Raptor demonstration was shortened for a mechanical issue. The heritage flight featuring the Raptor was then a casualty as the powerful Raptor was taken out of commission. The rest of the air show was great with several incredible aerobatic pilots, a fantastic demonstration of WWII warbirds, the Heavy Metal Jet Team, and of course, the precision and power of the Blue Angels. The Blue Angels portion of the show was kicked off with a short demonstration of their support plane dubbed “Fat Albert Airlines”, a C-130T Hercules piloted by an all Marine Corps. crew. As Fat Albert finishes its short, but impressive program, the Blue Angels incredible precision is put on display with the six F/A-18 Hornets criss-crossing the sky in various formations, with the two opposing solos performing breathtaking maneuvers right in front of the crowd. The awesome power and precision of the Blue Angels, that at times brought goose bumps, rescued an otherwise disappointing day. The admission fee was excessive, especially since there are several regional air shows each year that are free of charge, but if you’re a pilot, or a die hard aviation fan, this may be the event for you. The first set of pictures will be the early performers, click on a picture to enlarge.

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