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Lakeland, Florida’s aviation history


Aerial view of the research aircraft at EAA Fly-in | Image via Florida Memory

November is Aviation History Month, and Lakeland’s history of aviation is extensive.

To celebrate, we rounded up some of the notable things that happened in aviation over the last century, right here in Swan City.

  • 1927. The year Marie Miller, an aviator who went on to spend much of her life in Lakeland and was a fixture at the SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In show, took her first flight lessons at the age of 20. 👩‍✈️
  • 1974. The year the Experimental Aircraft Association held its first fly-in for aviation enthusiasts at the Lakeland Airport — today it is known as the SUN ‘n FUN Expo, Florida’s largest aircraft show. 🛫
  • 1986. The year the first version of the Florida Air Museum, at the time a “mini-museum,” opened at Hanger A of the Lakeland Linder Airport.
  • 1992. The year the Florida Air Museum, named the International Sport Aviation Museum at the time, officially opened to the public.
  • 2006. The year George Haldeman, a Lakeland pilot who broke aviation world records, was inducted into the Florida Aviation Hall of Fame. 🏆
  • 2008. The year the Central Florida Aerospace Academy opened its doors on Lakeland Linder International Airport’s campus. 🚀
  • 2015. The year the Florida Chapter of the Warbirds of America opened at the SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In event.

Today, the SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In is a week-long event with over 200,000 visitors, and the campus operates year-round as a learning experience for students.

Know of any other big moments in aviation history for Lakeland? Let us know here.

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