Aviation Adventures

Take Your Vacation to New Heights

If you're looking for a unique Central Florida vacation experience, the view from above can't be beat. You'll find high-flying fun and adventure for everyone in your family right here in Polk County.

Central Florida offers many unique opportunities to experience high-flying adventure. Sky diving, hang gliding, biplane rides, the second largest fly-in in the United States, and hot air balloon trips are all options, as is a relatively new and thrilling experience called flyboarding. Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo even has its own landing strip for pilots looking to explore the area by air.

Poster Image for SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Florida

Second Largest Fly-In in the United States

Every spring, Florida’s largest event, SUN ’n FUN International Fly-In & Expo presented by VISIT FLORIDA and Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, returns to Polk County. SUN ‘n FUN is the second largest fly-in in the United States, and attracts pilots and aviation enthusiasts from around the world, turning Lakeland Linder Regional Airport into the busiest airport in North America during the week of the fly-in. SUN ‘n FUN organizers anticipate 200,000 visitors from across the United States and more than 80 countries around the globe at the event.

The aviation thrill-fest features daily afternoon air shows, night air shows, performances by some of the world’s top aerobatic pilots and jet demonstration teams, hundreds of exhibits, workshops and forums, and the opportunity to view thousands of aircrafts, from homebuilts to warbirds.

Past performing teams include the Blue Angels and Breitling Jet Team, one of the most prestigious aerobatic jet teams in the world.

SUN 'n FUN International Fly-In & Expo
SUN 'n FUN International Fly-In & Expo

Must See: On Saturday, early risers are rewarded with a spectacular balloon launch followed by the traditional Saturday morning hot air balloon race.

Drawn to Central Florida

The second stop on our Drawn to Central Florida social media campaign tour, was the SUN 'n FUN International Fly-In & Expo in 2016. Lakeland artist, Josh "Bump" Galletta, describes his time at the fly-in and sketches the event.

Blog Post & Sketch Video
SUN 'n FUN International Fly-In & Expo

We’ll Be There if You Need Us!

While at SUN ‘n FUN, attendees can get in-depth information about local area amenities (shopping, dining, attractions, accommodations and more) by stopping in at the Visitors Information Center and Internet Café, hosted by Visit Central Florida and the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. For concierge service with lodging, restaurant reservations and more, just look for the bright blue and yellow building near Hangar A.

Poster Image for Aerospace Center for Excellence in Lakeland

Learn Your Wings at an Air Museum

The Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum at SUN 'n FUN

Most people only know the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus as home base for the annual air show, but the campus is open year-round to "Build a Brighter Future through Aviation." Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum is one of the main learning centers on campus. It includes the history and future of aerospace, informative displays, interactive learning stations where visitors can compete for the highest score, in-flight simulators, and the Howard Hughes Aviation Collection.

Fantasy of Flight
Fantasy of Flight

Fantasy of Flight in Polk City

Once home to the world’s largest private aircraft collection, a leaner, scaled-down version of Fantasy of Flight has returned as an aviation museum, heavily featuring vintage WWII aircraft. With a new seasonal schedule, open on only select Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Fantasy of Flight looks to keep going strong into its "Act III."

Biplane Rides

Waldo Wright's Flying Service
Waldo Wright's Flying Service

Waldo Wright’s Flying Service offers 15-minute and 30-minute biplane rides in their New Standard D-25. You can even take control and fly the plane yourself if you dare – no flying experience required! Reservations are required though, and schedules vary throughout the year, so be sure to call ahead to reserve your flight.

Preston Aviation
Preston Aviation

You TOO can fly a Stearman! Preston Aviation offers 15 and 30-minute single passenger flights in their Open Cockpit Boeing Stearman Biplane. Rides are catered to you. Take the controls and see how gentle they fly. Mild to Wild!! Flight training by a Certified Flight Instructor is also available in the Stearman and Piper Cub to licensed pilots. Preston Aviation is open year round and reservations are recommended.

Poster Image for Preston Aviation Stearman Flight School

Hot Air Balloon Excursions- Up in the Air without a Care

If you prefer to drift through the clouds in a more leisurely manner, perhaps with a glass of wine or champagne, Balloons and Beyond and Orlando Balloon Rides offer hot air balloon rides in the east side of Polk County.

Wallaby Ranch
Wallaby Ranch

Hang Gliding – If it’s Cool enough for the Today show, it’s Cool Enough for Us

Wallaby Ranch is the world’s first full-time aerotow hang gliding flight park. Featured on The Today Show as one of the best hang gliding schools in the nation, their seasoned instructors ensure you have the ultimate hang gliding experience every time. Open year-round, Wallaby Ranch is among the safest and most respected schools for aspiring hang gliders.

Skydiving – Free, Free Falling

For the truly adventurous, nothing gives you a rush quite like free-falling from a plane. Whether you’re working up the courage to take your first tandem skydive or gearing up for your 100th, Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales will be a winning addition to your itinerary. If you want to remember every second of your high-flying journey, you can purchase a package that includes a full video of your jump. Reservations are required and hours of operation vary according to the season, so be sure to contact the center well in advance to plan your visit.