Sun 'n Fun vs. Captain Zoom, 2004 edition

Jim "Captain Zoom" Campbell had been permanently banned from Sun 'n Fun.  But in 2004, after applying for and being denied Press credentials, he was mistakenly allowed  to purchase a general admission ticket and enter the grounds.
Although mistake was corrected, and Campbell was informed that the ban would continue, he first claimed the event as a victory then cried foul the next day.

Read the article in the Lakeland Ledger Newspaper, then read Captain Zoom's account.

Decide for yourself which report is more objective about this event.

Information about Copyright and Fair Use

Published in the Lakeland (FL) Ledger

Published Friday, April 16, 2004
Aviation Critic Buys Sun 'n Fun Ticket, Eludes Efforts to Eject Him

The Ledger

Longtime Sun 'n Fun foil Jim Campbell successfully roamed the grounds of the Fly-In Thursday after years in exile. But it may have been his last visit for a long time.

Campbell, the publisher of the Aero-News Network Web site, was banned for life from Sun 'n Fun five years ago, and Sun 'n Fun officials say Campbell was allowed to visit Thursday by mistake.


Campbell said his lawyer is trying to again get the case to court, saying Sun 'n Fun was not forthcoming in 1999 about the federal, state and local money it gets.

On Thursday, Campbell decided to test the ban.

He tried to get media credentials and was denied. But he was told he could buy a ticket and go inside the gates.

Someone made a mistake, and the ticket should not have been sold, said John Burton, Sun 'n Fun's president.

"He's not here with our blessing -- it was an oversight on someone's part," Burton said. "He knows he's violating the law."

Burton said if Campbell was found, he would be told to leave. And Lakeland police said they have a trespass warning for Campbell and would escort him from the grounds if they found him.


Read the entire article on the Ledger web page

Published on Aero-news.net April 16, 2004

Hell Freezes Over, Campbell Goes to SnF/Lakeland
Fri, 16 Apr '04

Hey... Is that...? Naw... Couldn't Be... JIM CAMPBELL at Sun 'n Fun????

The birds are still singing. Great chasms have not opened up in the earth. Society's precepts are more or less intact (no matter what Jerry Falwell may tell you). Rampaging hordes of Visigoths have been amazingly quiet. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are nowhere to be seen... AND Jim Campbell has been to Sun 'N Fun. Mind you, a heavy frost has been forecast for hell... but that's only a rumor.

And.. best of all, Pigs haven't flown.

In the company of TV cameras, a staff lawyer, news photographers and about a dozen journalists (overall), Jim Campbell showed up at Sun 'n Fun, asked to be registered as a media person... and was turned down.

But... not turned away.

After a phone call to Sun 'n Fun's Pat Boyce and about ten minutes of what had to furious discussions up at the SnF Puzzle Palace (where the staffers indicated that senior SnF persons had "made a decision," SnF Volunteer Greg Abbott (with teeth gritted) did pronounce that Campbell would be allowed to buy a ticket and go to the Fly-In. After standing in a line of all of two people, Campbell ponied up his Visa card, accepted the customary "we own your soul" wristband... and went in.

After four years of personal attacks against him, numerous legal skirmishes and God only knows how many falsehoods, legal violations and so forth, Sun 'n Fun's principals boiled down to... 30 bucks. Yes, we were overbilled.


In the aviation biz, folks, it's us against the world, and every time we fight amongst ourselves, it detracts from efforts that could have improved our lot elsewhere. We really do hope this is over... we were sick of writing about it, we were sick of dealing with it, and we were sick of the embarrassment our community experienced over it (especially to Jim, who NEVER backed down). So, for the moment, we're looking forward to getting back to writing about aerospace and aviation. What a concept...

Read the entire article on Aero-News.net

Published on Aero-news.net April 17, 2004

Hell Freezes Over... Part II
Sat, 17 Apr '04

Yup... It Appears That They Lied To Us... Again

You're NOT going to believe this. On Thursday, in the oh-so-public glare of TV and still cameras wielded by a dozen journalists and a lawyer or two, the ever-deceptive Sun 'n Fun Fly-In organization seemed to finally cave in, and gave ANN Editor-In-Chief Jim Campbell the access to the publicly funded airport/event (and the FAA Building therein) which numerous legal experts state is his right.

Then, the cameras left. Since then, we have read that they claim that Campbell's access was a "mistake." This, after we (and others) watched the media staff call headquarters and wrangle over the phone for the better part of several minutes.

Mistake? Baloney.

It is the latest in a series of deplorable falsehoods and tactics employed by Sun 'n Fun to avoid responsibility for their excesses, falsehoods and problems. It is also a thundering mistake, as a number of observers and journalists who witnessed Campbell's entrance note that "they aren't fooling anyone." We are simply staggered by the institutional arrogance and outright dishonesty we see in this organization.

In a limited statement to the local paper, though, SnF's John Burton states that a reason for the ban is that Campbell had harassed vendors at the Fly-In. We've heard variations on this theme before, but never so blatantly stated... especially since they have indicated to Campbell and a few others (including a local journalist) that the affected vendors are aero-problematical companies Revolution Helicopter, Adventure Amphibian, Max-Air, CGS, and Parascender.


We have come to a few conclusions about all this... We're probably wasting our time in holding our breath and waiting for improvements -- this is a failing and corrupted organization that needs to be replaced -- period. The situation will not be solved by reason or public pressure... the egos involved are too intensely invested in their campaign of obfuscation, falsehood, and avoidance. This will and has to lead to their own destruction... but when it happens, it isn't going to be pretty... and we'll ALL suffer for it.

Shortly; you will hear of a solid movement to replace the annual Lakeland Fly-In with a better managed, more safety and public oriented event, at a better/safer facility. ANN (and many others that we are aware of) will now choose to support that effort with the weight of it's considerable resources and work hard to see that it does what Sun 'n Fun apparently can not or will not do... put the safety and well-being of the public their first and foremost priority. If they won't let you join them, I guess it's time to beat them. We shall see...

Read the entire article on Aero-news.net


Updated 04-17-2005