June 17, 2024 |

Sheltair Aviation and the Aerospace Center for Excellence Celebrates the Grand opening of the Jerry Holland Destination: Aviation Playground

On June 10, 2024, Sheltair Aviation and the Aerospace Center for Excellence celebrated the grand opening of the Jerry Holland Destination: Aviation Playground. The playground is a tribute to Jerry Holland, who founded Sheltair Aviation Services in 1963. Jerry’s dedication to the general aviation and business aviation community has been instrumental in the growth of aviation in Florida. His unwavering commitment to constructing hangars and an award winning FBO network to support aviation in Florida, and beyond, has been an amazing achievement. 

Jerry has always taken an interest in supporting young aviators and the Jerry Holland Destination: Aviation Playgroundgives children the earliest opportunity, with the assistance of ACE, to foster interest in taking flight. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the aviation-themed playground opened with a welcoming occasion by Gene Conrad, President and CEO of Aerospace Center for Excellence, followed by remarks from Lisa Holland, President and CEO of Sheltair and daughter of Jerry Holland. Kai Seymour, Property Manager of Sheltair and grandson of Jerry Holland, also provided remarks. This outstanding project was made possible by generous funding from Sheltair Aviation Services, Lakeland International Airport, and private donors. 

“After building a successful legacy on the heels of hard work and dedication to the aviation community we love so much, this is the first time my family has ever lent their name to anything,” remarks Lisa Holland. “Now that my father is 89 years old, my mother and I want to honor his legacy and all that he has achieved in his lifetime. It’s fitting that the legacy lives on in this project and our hope is that the next generation will be inspired not only by the playground and ACE but by my father’s vision.” 

Construction of the Jerry Holland Destination: Aviation Playground began in April of this year, and has resulted in a dynamic children’s wonderland that features shaded swings, a shuttle spring rider, a jet spring rider, and an atom spinner. The STEM activities incorporated into the main play structure allow kids from 2 to 12 years of age to learn the parts of an airplane, see firsthand how an engine works, and explore the concepts of roll, pitch, and yaw; children can launch adventures independently or engage in activities cooperatively. In addition to exploring the playground activities, families can enjoy a picnic lunch in the Aerospace Center for Excellence Pavilion. The playground is free to all Florida Air Museum members; non-members can enjoy the playground with a museum admission ticket.

Gene Conrad, President and CEO of Aerospace Center for Excellence, had this to say about the occasion: “Our mission at the Aerospace Center for Excellence is to Engage, Educate, and Accelerate the Next Generation of Aerospace Professionals. Mr. Holland’s passion for aviation and Sheltair’s Family First spirit all align, and we are grateful for the partnership we have with the Holland family and Sheltair.”

Jerry Holland’s passion for aviation inspired him to pave the way for future generations of aviators to pursue their dreams and follow in his footsteps. The Jerry Holland Destination: Aviation Playground is the paved way toward making aviation dreams come true.

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