Sun ‘n Fun’s return in 2021 has attracted nearly 400 exhibitors to Lakeland, Florida, for the week of April 13-18. The number is down 20% from about 500 in 2019. While some exhibitors decided not to attend this year because of COVID, others are back in full swing, while a few moved forward with unmanned displays. Sun ‘n Fun was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. Textron Aviation is showcasing its Cessna Caravan on site for customers to touch and see. It also is featuring virtual aircraft displays where attendees scan a QR code to view the aircraft’s exterior and interior. Credit: Molly McMillin
Textron Aviation’s exhibit includes a large video board featuring team members discussing products, the market and the show. They also will answer questions posed by attendees through direct text messages to its sales staff. “It’s a unique way for us to make sure that the participants know that we are there; we are present. We’re just not physically there,” said Chris Crow, Textron Aviation vice president of piston and utility aircraft sales. Credit: Molly McMillin
A Virtual Reach
Textron Aviation’s virtual aircraft displays include the ability to conduct a virtual tour of an aircraft, such as the Citation M2, by scanning QR codes with a smart phone. The technology will reach beyond Sun ‘n Fun, Chris Crow said. While it is planning to have a more traditional presence at AirVenture Oshkosh in July with a manned booth, the company plans to bring with it some of the virtual platforms for customer interactions. “Almost everyone has a smart phone, and they’re on it every day,” Crow said. “They’re very comfortable with this kind of platform.” Credit: Molly McMillin
Shadow Box Stories
Textron Aviation's exhibit includes shadow boxes that tell stories about customers who have used their aircraft to go camping, to fly to the lake or to travel to the beach. The panels tell a story about how they had the opportunity to use their aircraft. Credit: Molly McMillin
A Virtual ForeFlight Display
Inside Hangar B at Sun ‘n Fun, ForeFlight is hosting a large, unmanned display. “We still invite you to stop by our booth … to scan QR codes to learn more about our latest features, take advantage of our spring special, and more,” the company says. It also is hosting a variety of webinars. Credit: Molly McMillin
Jeppesen is featuring its charts and data products at its large unmanned booth near ForeFlight's exhibit. Credit: Molly McMillin
How this week's Sun 'n Fun is different than usual.
Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.