The 37th annual Sun 'n Fun show - held in Lakeland, Florida from 29 March to 3 April - hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. A tornado swept through the event on the 31 March, battering the exhibition site and causing damage to around 70 aircraft - many of which were written off.

Anything loose was whipped in to the air, tie-downs were largely ineffectual, the sandy soil moistened - about 150mm (6in) of rain fell in several hours. Flooding to a depth of 300mm occurred in some parts, with hail and torrential precipitation hitting the area.

Upturned Cessna 172 @ Sun n' Fun
A Cessna 172 dumped on top of a Beech Bonanza by the tornado.
Ultravia Aero Pelican Sport 600 damage @ Sun n' Fu
© Geoff Jones
Ultravia Aero Pelican Sport 600 damage

Aircraft large and small were affected. A Cessna Grand Caravan was dumped on its back, a Douglas DC-3 moved about 30m (100ft), Lockwoods and Rans display exhibitions were annihilated, and had there been more visiting aircraft on the field, the devastation would have been far worse.

An estimated 60-70 aircraft were damaged, many written off - more minor damage unreported was extensive to aircraft and exhibition sites.

By the morning of the 1 April, the storm had cleared and Sun 'n Fun reopened at 08.00, although parking for visiting vehicles was at a premium on the still waterlogged airport.

Source: Flight International