Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz has proclaimed MARCH 21, 2022, John & Nancy Leenhouts Day in the City of Lakeland.
Proclamation: John and Nancy Leenhouts Day
WHEREAS, From its humble 1974 beginnings, a fly-in began for sport aviation enthusiasts, becoming SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo (now one of the largest and most successful aviation events on earth) and hosts 200,000 visitors annually and serves as “Aviation’s Season Opener”; and
WHEREAS, The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), formed in 2014 by SUN ‘n FUN, is the most unique educational aviation campus in the United States with its 14-building Aerospace STEM facility, anchored by the Central Florida Aerospace Academy and the Florida Air Museum, which was established as Florida’s official aviation museum in 2005; and
WHEREAS, Under the inspiring leadership of John “Lites” Leenhouts since 2011, ACE/SUN ‘n FUN created a world-class event venue, built the world’s largest high school flying club, and has consistently increased attendance at the annual SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In; and
WHEREAS, John Leenhouts conceptualized and established the Aerospace Center for Excellence, which is the new home of the Ramus SkyLab Innovation Center, and gave strategic guidance to providing STEM education resulting in the Aerospace Center for Excellence’s emergence as the premier aerospace-based, hands-on, STEM education ecosystem in the nation. This advocacy, influence, and leadership has resulted in ACE/SUN ‘n FUN being recognized as the national leader in educating the next generation of aviation professionals and is the template for other future programs elsewhere; and
WHEREAS, SUN ‘n FUN has become completely debt-free while also providing over $5,000,000 in capital improvements, including transitioning a Boeing 727 into the world’s only fully functional laboratory classroom; and
WHEREAS, Nancy Leenhouts has served as a full partner in making ACE/SUN ‘n FUN a success, playing a leading role during the Annual Fly-In by hosting The 927 Club at the VIP Chalet and using her beautiful voice at many events gracefully singing the National Anthem, and has personally engaged with staff, board members, and stakeholders as an enthusiastic advocate of ACE/SUN ‘n Fun; and
WHEREAS, On the occasion of John Leenhouts’ retirement, it is highly appropriate to recognize their joint contributions to Lakeland during the past 11 years and the positive impact on thousands of aviation enthusiasts, which ensures a legacy of community service and property honors their joint commitment to Lakeland residents on behalf of ACE/SUN ‘n FUN.
Watch the full presentation here: