UPDATE: Sun 'n Fun announced last week that it was planning to postpone its annual fly-in, originally scheduled for March 31, to May 5, pending approval from the City of Lakeland, where the fly-in takes place. All signs point to that not happening.
The organization had been coming under increasing pressure to cancel or postpone after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recommended the closing of large public gatherings and several major Florida attractions announced they were closing their doors.
Before the postponement was announced, Plane & Pilot had published an opinion piece calling for the cancelation of the March start date for Sun 'n Fun. We reiterate that stance in regards to the May 5th start date, as well.
Over the past several days, there have been a number of announcements from the Trump Administration and from the CDC, as well as from the State of Florida, that suggest the new proposed start date will not fly either.
In a Washington Post story, the authors quoted epidemiologists and virologists as saying, "It's not going to be over any time soon—a matter of months rather than weeks." The Center for Disease Control three days ago recommended no gatherings of more than 10 people. And President Trump in his remarks to the Nation yesterday made clear that a nationwide quarantine is under serious consideration, though is not, he said, ready yet to implement one.
We reached out to Sun ‘n Fun for comment but have not heard back. A story in lkldnow.com said the organization had reached out to the city commissioner for approval of the plan, which the city granted. A final approval for the plan, the story reported, will not come until April 17, however.
When we reached out to Sun 'n Fun for comment today, Greg Gibson, chief marketing officer for the Aerospace Center for Excellence, the organization that puts on the event, reiterated the organizers' former release, and on follow up he said that he was not ready to issue additional states at this time.
Lakeland, FL: SUN ‘n FUN and the Aerospace Center for Excellence are deeply concerned about the developing crisis with COVID-19 and understand our responsibility to help in the fight against the spread of the disease. Our first priority is always the health, safety, and well-being of our patrons, partners, staff and volunteers. With the full support of Polk County, the City of Lakeland, Lakeland Linder International Airport, and the FAA, at this time we are planning to postpone the 2020 SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo until May 5-10. We appreciate the unwavering support of our airport and community and hope everyone will make plans to join us here this May.
So is Sun 'n Fun still a go for May 5-10? Officially, it is. But all the available information seems to indicate that the event could not take place until much later in the year, if at all in 2020.
This is a breaking story. We will follow up with more details as this story develops.