Florida Treasure Hunting


When most people think of searching for gold and booty in Florida, they naturally think that they are going to need a boat, and SCUBA gear. Not so if you’re a pilot or airplane builder… the real treasures this week are to be found in Hangar E at Sun ‘n Fun in Lakeland!

Pilots, owners, and builders from all over bring their junk… I mean, “treasures” along, and put them up for sale in the aviation fly market located halfway between the regular exhibit halls and the campgrounds. These one-of-a-kind (literally!) items are spread out on tables with tags showing price and owner, and then everyone else sorts through them, looking for that perfect door latch for their 1941 Cub, or bungee cords for a Pitts.

Airplane, parts, tools, toys, aviation games, and art are all for sale – if it can be related to aviation in any way, it’s fair game. There is even a nice collection of motor scooters in case you need to run around the ramp at your home aerodrome. In the past, we’ve picked up assorted drill bits, spools of wire, and even treasured bags of clecos (you have to get there pretty early to grab those…), paying less than half of new prices for stuff that sometimes we didn’t even know we needed.

And for those who couldn’t make it on opening day, don’t be discouraged – many sellers couldn’t get there for the beginning as well, so new items appear as the week rolls on. It’s worth the trek – but don’t be surprised if you have to make a follow-on trip to your car or campsite to drop off your hard-found booty before continuing your Sun ‘n Fun adventure.

The tables in Hangar E – where dreams can be found!

Radios? Yeah… we’ve got radios!

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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