As Lady Liberty, this was her first journey to the SUN ‘n FUN Airshow, flying from Sheltair DAB to Sheltair LAL. Lady was also busy this month displaying at the CFBAA BizAv Day, having debuted her new livery and special decaling to feature the “From Sacrifice to Soaring program,” and partnership with Sheltair. The aircraft also provided several flight experiences and a special winner of a coastal flight package!
Lady Liberty’s First Journey to the Big Show, A New Livery and Special Flight Experiences Impact Young Lives
It was a foggy morning on Tuesday, March 28 as Sean and I were impatiently waiting at Sheltair DAB for the fog to burn off, the field to turn VFR, and depart for the 2023 SUN ‘n FUN (SNF) Aerospace Expo and Airshow. Why can’t this fog just lift already? I have to be honest. I was so excited to fly Lady into the show, my stomach had butterflies over the ordeal! So many thoughts were running through my head – a crazy place to be sometimes – about the NOTAMs, entering the traffic pattern, arrival, making sure we “land on the dot” when landing at KLAL. For those of you familiar with the procedures flying into an airshow, you get it. The good jitters, mixed with all the excitement, plus for me personally, getting to fly Lady for the first time into this show. It was as if Christmas appeared that Tuesday morning. I swear. The feeling cannot be matched.
Finally! About 10:15am the field turned VFR and since Lady Liberty’s pre-flight was complete, we were ready to go. Coffee…check! Sheltair branded water…check! NOTAMs…check! Sanity…check! Fuel and oil…check! Sean got in the right seat, me in the left, I started the FADEC system and that propeller was as ready to turn as we were. Off we went by 11:02am from KDAB, destination, SUN ‘n FUN – here we come!
It was a beautiful day to fly and landing at KLAL, which we prepared for the busiest of busy, was not all that eventful. LAL controllers are so awesome, personable and even funny. They make the SNF procedure and process not only seamless, but enjoyable.
If you wish…listen to the audio here: Arriving in the Pattern at 2023 Sun n Fun – Lady Liberty’s First SNF Airshow (Audio)
“White low wing, start your right base turn. White low wing in the base, keep it turning all the way, don’t square it off. Point the nose at the orange dot, cleared to land runway 28R, at or after the green dot. Everybody high speed taxi to the end, left turn. Hope everyone is having a great day and had a good flight in. Welcome to SUN ‘n FUN 2023!”
It sounds busy, quick action is needed and lots of focus. Which, yes, that is all true! From a safety standpoint, that is why when we fly into any airshow, we don’t do it solo. Have at least two certified pilots looking out and paying attention to multiple and critical flight operations. If you are lucky to have a CFI in your pocket, have them with you because again, we are always learning and they are always instructing. I am always humbled to say “I don’t know it all, I am always learning and someone can fly better than me!” Sean is the best of the best and because he is a seasoned CFI, comes from SNF’s ACE (Aerospace Center for Excellence) program and familiar with the Liberty, he greased that landing. GO SEAN!
Check out the short video approach into SNF 2023: Approach to Sun ‘N’ Fun 2023 (KLAL) in Lady Liberty
Being greeted by my friend and colleague, Andy Castro based at Sheltair LAL, now promoted to the regional vice president role at Sheltair, is always a joy. It’s like having a big brother waiting for his sister’s arrival – and caring for her just as so! Congrats Andy on your promotion. Well deserved brother! I’ve watched Andy grow into various leadership roles at Sheltair over the years. I am so proud of him! When you fly into SNF and park at Sheltair LAL, you are greeted with excellence, care and smiles. Not only did we get the VIP treatment at Sheltair, Go Rentals went above and beyond bringing us our rental to the FBO. Much respect to this company that has grown so much since we started with them in 2014 – all due to the amazing leadership of my friend, Kaye Gitibin. Countless times I’ve depended on Go Rentals for a car where they may not have a base, and each time, they deliver.
For those who don’t know, Sheltair acquired the LAL facility in 2014. In 2021, they made a pledge to help “fuel” the future of aviation professionals through fuel sales, supporting the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE). This philanthropic act is why I am so committed to supporting industry partners, like Sheltair and Go Rentals, who are doing their duty to aid the next generation. Over the last two years, Sheltair’s partnership donated more than $32,000 to the ACE at SNF. They help youth soar!
SNF was a great show. We had multiple projects and programming to handle all week but as soon as Saturday came, it was time to get Lady back to home base, Sheltair KDAB. Since Sean had to stay back in Lakeland, I voluntold (yes, he gets that sometimes) Mr. Lou Seno, the “Godfather” of business aviation, to enjoy a flight back in Lady to Daytona. We were the first VFR departure of the day at LAL on Saturday, April 1. We did have to wait for the hot air balloons to deflate first, but wow, what a sight to see! No “April Fools” in that departure. Thank goodness!
Starting on Wednesday, April 12, Lady Liberty underwent a full-scale restripping and decaling by SOS Custom Signs in Daytona. They did a phenomenal job with this project and the owner himself, Greg, is a pilot and CFI. With a rush on the project, SOS nailed it! She was done and ready to go, having been cleaned by our partners, Immaculate Flight, in time for the CFBAA (Central Florida Business Aviation Association) Business Aviation Day on April 14. We saw more than 300 students and vendors that day, with Lady Liberty and Boss Bonanza on a dual-aircraft display. Todd Anderson, Sheltair’s COO, was present and had the chance to see Lady’s new livery for the first time! I’ve known Todd for years and it was exciting to show him all the work we’ve done since. The days following the show, we had opportunities to give flight experiences to 3-year-old Lillianne and newly accepted Embry-Riddle freshman, Madison Kollar.
Check out the recap of the decaling here: Lady Liberty Gets New Attire by SOS Custom Signs at Sheltair KDAB
As part of the CFBAA event, our dual aircraft display donated two coastal flight experiences and one of those winners was Sheltair’s very own Zakeer Siraj, a commercial-rated pilot working to pursue a corporate aviation career. We are so proud of him! At his young age, Zakeer has nailed it with flight training toward his goals. An Embry-Riddle student, he’s not only multi-engine rated with a single-engine seaplane rating, but he also holds both high performance and complex endorsements. Hopefully, he won’t be too disappointed in Lady’s 125 knot cruising speed…hehe!
To say April was busy is an understatement, and we have no plans of stopping. Lady Liberty really is proving to be a “unique” flying experience, not just for our programming, yet for many others. We are humbled and grateful to share her with so many passionate people, and to us, this journey has just begun.
As I advance this themed monthly blog with Sheltair, you will become more intimately involved in special projects FAC has oversight of. Some of these, just to give a teaser, involve WWII aircraft, a presidential aircraft restoration, global flight missions, female flight training scholarships, and more! FAC is now a team of 10 and growing. We love to have fun, we all enjoy the freedom of flight, engaging with industry, and supporting this sector with everything we have. We invite you to learn more about us here: FunDAvConsulting.com
Stay tuned for the next blog!