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Spartan College Soars at SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo

Sun and Fun Spartan College
May 13, 2021

Spartan College Soars at SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo

In Lakeland, Florida, the Spartan team had a week and weekend literally filled with sun and fun. The SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo took place on April 13 through April 18, 2021 and featured a wide variety of aviation enthusiasts, ranging from professional schools to manufactures of component plane parts.

 

After a long winter and an even longer 2020 spent staying socially distanced, we were happy to be back out in the sun with other aviator pioneers at the largest airshow in Florida.

We sent our Spartan team, our Spartan mascot, and one of our new Piper Archer TX planes. Equipped with a hotspot and a big tent to welcome visitors, we greeted friendly faces and met new folks interested in Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology.

 

Garmin’s Manager of Aviation Aftermarket Sales - Americas, Patrick Coleman, and Jackie Carlon, Senior Director Marketing and Communications at Piper Aircraft, Inc., got to mix and mingle with alumni and attendees who have directly interacted with their products while training at Spartan College. A huge thanks to them for coming out, stopping by, and their continued support of Spartan.

Garmin and Piper Spartan college

Our favorite part of the event came when we got to greet Spartan alumni alongside our Garmin and Piper Aircraft partners. Everyone who stopped by our booth was interested in the new Piper Archer plane. However, Spartan alumni Mitchell Hack and Stefan Sanders stole the show. They both chatted with prospective students and aviation enthusiasts alike at our tent. Watch Stephon Sanders’, certified flight instructor at Spartan College, testimonial below.

We sent our Spartan team, our Spartan mascot, and one of our new Piper Archer TX planes. Equipped with a hotspot and a big tent to welcome visitors, we greeted friendly faces and met new folks interested in Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology.

 

Garmin’s Manager of Aviation Aftermarket Sales - Americas, Patrick Coleman, and Jackie Carlon, Senior Director Marketing and Communications at Piper Aircraft, Inc., got to mix and mingle with alumni and attendees who have directly interacted with their products while training at Spartan College. A huge thanks to them for coming out, stopping by, and their continued support of Spartan.

We spoke with folks whose career started because they trained at Spartan. In fact, we met Steve Testrake, a Spartan legacy it turns out. After the event, Steve reached out with his full story. Read it below.

“It might be a good idea to provide you a bit of a back brief on some [of my] Spartan history. I recall there was a certain carburetor instructor, let’s call him Professor Byrd. When I arrived, [fresh] out of high school, at the Tulsa campus in 1976, he was a very old man – even older than I am now.

During the first roll call he got to my name and said, “Testrake.” I said, “Here.”
He asked, “Any relationship to John Testrake?” I responded, “Yes, sir, he is my uncle.” 
Then he asked, “Any relationship to Roger Testrake?” And I replied, “Yes, sir, he’s my Dad.” Professor Byrd paused and then said, “I remember them.” 

WOW! I know my dad attended Spartan in the 1950s as a Korean War veteran, and my Uncle John attended in the late 1940s or early 50s as a WWII U.S. Navy veteran. [But I was astonished he remembered!]

My Dad and I are normal working guys, but my Uncle John is someone you should be aware of.  The John Testrake who was a young U.S. Navy veteran from WWII is also the same TWA Captain John Testrake. As in, he’s featured in this New York Times article: John Testrake, 68, T.W.A. Pilot Who Became Hero in Hijacking - The New York Times

My Uncle John initiated me into aviation when I was eight years old. I have him, Spartan, Cal Poly Pomona, and mostly God, to thank [for my aviation career].

Steve Testrake
SVP & Chief Engineer
Luscombe Aircraft Corporation

While enjoying the sun and fun at the event, we raffled off four drones from anyone who used our #SpartanSkies hashtag while at the event. If you entered the raffle, you can see if you won via the official winner’s list here. Once you’re on that page, search by your social media handle and you’ll see if you’re a winner. Thank you to all who participated!

Taking the planes out Spartan college

Even as a storm moved in on the last day of the event, we still were greeting friends and alumni alike at the Spartan tent and sent our Piper Archer on to safer skies. So, while the rain rolled in the planes rolled out.

You can find Spartan College next at US airshows, coming up we will be at the Kansas City Airshow (7/3-7/4), the Oshkosh Airshow (7/26 – 8/1), and the Wings Over Houston (10/9-10/10). We hope to see you all there. Until then, browse our gallery of photos from the 2021 SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo below.

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