January 27, 2021

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Though thoughts of Santa usually conjure images of the jolly bearded man on a sleigh, he’ll soon be flying into Lakeland in a vintage Stearman aircraft.

Holiday fun meets aviation during the first Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show at Lakeland’s Sun ‘n Fun Expo Dec. 4-5. Visitors can spend time with more than 150 cars, see dozens of airplanes and hot air balloons on the ground andsee F-16s and F-35s soaring overhead.

The idea for a holiday show was sparked after Sun ‘n Fun was forced to cancel their large-scale Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo in April, said Greg Gibson, the organization’s chief marketing officer.

“The loss of our major funding event in April was pretty devastating. Our big cause, the thing we raise money for is the Aerospace Center for Excellence,” he said. “This is an effort to help bring some of that revenue back, but we’re not charging for the event.”

Proceeds from events held on the Sun ‘n Fun Expo campus benefit students pursuing aerospace education through scholarships and programs, and the upcoming holiday event will raise money through paid parking.

During the two-day holiday event, families can also participate in a 5K, experience first responder displays, view powered paragliding aerobatics and browse more than 80 vendors on site. For younger visitors, a bounce house, STEM activities and time with Santa await.

“The elves are going to drop him off, I’m going to put him in the Stearman and bring him in,” Gibson said. “We have a family area where kids can either bring their own letters or a place where they can write letters to Santa.”

This event will also mark the first time Sun ‘n Fun hosts a short takeoff and landing contest, known as a STOL competition. On both show dates, aircraft will test their skills in taking off and landing in the shortest distance possible.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sun ‘n Fun strongly encourages guests to wear masks except while seated and socially distanced from other groups by at least six feet. In addition, hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the event and increased sanitization will be implemented.

Gibson said while aviation is always the focal point of Sun ‘n Fun shows, this event aims to provide something for visitors of all interests.

“Our core is aviation, but this is a community organization and a community center,” he said. “It’s designed to be inexpensive, very family-friendly and something just to give people a chance to get outside and enjoy Florida a little bit.”

If you go

The Sun ‘n Fun Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show is 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 4 and 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 5 at 4175 Medulla Road in Lakeland. Event admission is free but parking is $20 per vehicle per day or $35 for both days. For more information, visit flysnf.org.

Find me on Twitter @PConnPie, Instagram @PConnPie or send me an email: [email protected]

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — A new law regulating e-scooters and e-bicycles takes effect in New York City on Monday.

The ordinance, which was passed by the New York City Council over the summer, legalizes the electronic rides – including both e-scooters and e- bicycles – across Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

RELATED: NYC Council set to approve e-scooters, e-bikes

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The council feels it will help essential workers making deliveries during the pandemic.

Electric scooters will be allowed to reach a speed of 20 miles per hour on New York City streets, while bicycles with electric motors have a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.

The new law was advocated by food delivery workers and transportation advocates across the city’s five boroughs.

NYC COVID NEWS: Police break up private swingers party in Queens with 80 people

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Police broke up a private swingers party in Queens that was being held inside a yellow zone.

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There will most definitely be regulations for self-driving cars in the future.


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We are long, long time away from widespread use of self-driving cars, though governments around the world are trying to get ahead of the game with regulations. In the US, any steps have been minimal at best, but now, it looks like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to take a real step forward.

On Thursday, the agency announced it’s now seeking public comment on “the potential development of a framework of principles to govern the safe behavior of automated driving systems.” To be clear, whatever the NHTSA has come up with so far is nowhere near final, but it wants the public to have its say on possible proposals to create future regulations. 

These early proposals seek to “define, assess and manage the safety of ADS performance while ensuring the needed flexibility to enable further innovation.” Today, companies and automakers working on self-driving cars largely play by patchwork regulations across state lines. One cohesive blanket of regulations will definitely be important in the future.

The agency underscored that self-driving systems will be unlike any automotive system in use today, so it wants to ensure the public has its chance to speak on the challenges surrounding the technology. Concerns on security, safety and even privacy are all fair game.

Once the period for public comment closes, NHTSA said the feedback could help shape future policies, but any major decision is still likely years away.


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