From a product standpoint, Sun n’ Fun 2022 was a bust, and here’s hoping AirVenture at Oshkosh will be better. I’ve been going to the Sun ‘n Fun show in Florida since 1990—first joining the arrival mayhem before moving on to Key West to escape miserable New England winter weather—then as a vendor and finally a reporter. While Sun ‘n Fun has changed over the years, this year a choked supplied chain made it all airshow and a no-news show. Not even press conferences at Press HQ—which closed early each day. Thank goodness for the always generous Sporty’s, which still put on the traditional midweek barbecue. Carol Cali at Sun ‘n Fun’s media relations told me that while plenty of vendors did have stuff to talk about, she was frustrated at the lack of interest for press conferences. We were on our own, and resigned that Sun ‘n Fun is no longer a news show. Still, Kate O’Connor, my counterpart over at sister pub AVweb, and I marveled at how many product videos we were able to string together by doing what I always wished I had more time to do—walk the show and talk to vendors. We found enthusiastic ones making the best out of a difficult market that has no shortage of willing buyers, but instead a shortage of inventory. That includes airplanes, avionics and even consumables.
Mark Brown at Daher told me demand for the big Kodiak turboprop single is through the roof, and after flying one on floats a while back, it’s easy for me to see why. It’s a total package that has it going on, and now under the Daher brand, the rugged airplane is more refined than ever, with impressive fit and finish. Steve Kent at Textron told me the order book for the recently reintroduced turbo 182 Skylane is full as the company works through the type certification process. Worth showing is the new Cessna 182 pictured below, which may have been one of the more attention-getting things at Sun ‘n Fun. To celebrate 65 years of the Skylane, Textron showed it off in that retro paint scheme, including the name “Cessna” on the doors stamped in the marque’s early font. I think it’s cool, but the Garmin G1000 glass panel kind of spoils the mood.
Oddly enough, Pilatus—always a big presence at the show—was a no-show.
Maybe it didn’t need to, with more inked deals for the PC-12 NGX than it
can deliver. But little planes are doing well, too. My friend Tom Peghini at Flight Design USA was showing off the production version of the F2 LSA, an airplane that’s apparently appealing to aging pilots stepping out of bigger and faster airplanes. With a beefed-up landing gear, sturdy handling and impressive ergos, the well-equipped F2 is a refreshing departure from the typical lightweight LSA.
On the avionics front, it was quiet. But kudos for Dynon for working to
tame the installation complexity for kit builders (and also for shops and IAs)
putting in the SkyView HDX and HDX Certified systems. Dynon’s new Fast-
Track hardware comes with the suite’s critical remote components ready to bolt onto prefab trays. Unbox it, screw the components into the nut plates and plug in the pre-made harnesses—a huge time-saver with no guesswork. uAvionix has the space-based ADS-B requirement that’s back on the table for Canada covered, showing off the Diversity-ready tailBeaconX transponder. It showed up at Sun ‘n Fun with a fresh TSO and STC.
Now all eyes are on AirVenture 2022—maybe enthusiastic vendors will have
big announcements for buyers with full wallets. We’ll be there with eyes wide open. —Larry Anglisano