March 24th | The Capital City Club
Networking: 11:00am – 12:00pm
Luncheon: 12:00 – 1:30pm
Join the Atlanta Aero Club for their first in-person event of 2022 at the Capitol City Club in Atlanta, Georgia. During this event, the President and CEO of SUN ‘n Fun, John Leenhouts, will discuss the future of the world-famous aerospace expo, which will take place later this year in April! In addition, Leenhouts will provide insight into future opportunities within the industry.
John R. “Lites” Leenhouts loves all things aviation and his enthusiasm is contagious. The retired Naval aviator is finishing his tenth year as President and CEO of the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo and the Aerospace Center for Excellence. He is a 27-year veteran of the United States Navy with a distinguished record of service as a carrier fighter pilot along with an extensive list of community involvement. Leenhouts obtained his private pilot license in 1970 and has accumulated more than 12,000 hours piloting various military, antique, and civilian aircraft. Commissioned an Ensign in March, 1974, he was designated a Naval Aviator on August 22, 1975 at NAS Kingsville, Texas. Leenhouts primarily flew the A-7 Corsair, F-14 Tomcat, and the F/A-18 Hornet and holds the distinction of performing more landings (or “traps” in naval nomenclature) on an aircraft carrier than any other naval aviator in U.S. history with 1645 arrested landings. He retired from the Navy in 2001, as Commodore Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. Since his retirement from the Navy, Leenhouts worked for over ten years for the Northrop Grumman Corporation as the F/A-18 MRO Program Manager in the Jacksonville, Florida area where he oversaw the modification, repair, and overhaul of all models of the F/A-18, including the Super Hornets. In his time out of the office, “Lites” and wife Nancy, enjoy flying his 1964 Piper Comanche or 1930 Waco, driving antique British cars, or riding his Harley on the many back roads of our great nation.
With 10 major deployments to his credit, Commodore Leenhouts has logged over 12,000 hours piloting more than 35 different types of military, antique, and civilian aircraft. He has become the all-time leading Carrier Aviator, having accumulated 1,645 traps on 16 different aircraft carriers while operating on every ocean on the planet. Additionally, Commodore Leenhouts has exceeded 10,000 aerial photographs with many of his images published worldwide. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat “V” (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Individual Air Medal with Combat “V” (four awards), two Strike Flight Air Medals with Combat “V”, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” (two awards). Captain Leenhouts retired in January 2001 after twenty-eight years of adventurous service.
In 2001, Commodore Leenhouts conceptualized and created the US Navy/Marine Corps’ first ever commercial MRO Facility for the F/A-18. Teamed with the Boeing Corp., he grew the facility from its infancy to a multi-million-dollar program modifying hundreds of hornets annually. Upon retiring from Northrup Grumman, Lites joined SUN ‘n FUN in 2011, and within three years lead the organization to be totally debt free for the first time in over three decades. Once SUN ‘n FUN became financially stable, he created the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) as an aviation education focused not-for profit organization and managed it to ultimately become the primary corporation. He then envisioned a world class education facility based on aerospace principles and technology. On August 04, 2021 that vision became reality as ACE on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo campus, unveiled the Skylab Innovation Center! This is the world’s first purpose-built, aerospace-based, hands-on, STEM learning laboratory. ACE is now fully meeting their mission of engaging, educating, and accelerating the next generation of aviation professionals in an aviation education ecosystem where the sky is just the beginning!
The Atlanta Aero Club is one of the most active aviation clubs in the Southeast! We welcome new members and invite you to join us for our next in-person networking event. Stay up-to-date with the latest news in the aerospace community and learn from renowned industry leaders from all around the world!
President, Atlanta Aero Club
U.S. Publisher, AV Buyer Magazine