Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fantasy of Flight

Before the now well documented Sun ' n Fun 2011,  I spend a day at Fantasy of Flight (FoF), near Polk city, halfway between Orlando and Tampa, Florida USA.

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FoF is not your average aircraft museum. The owner, Kermit Weeks, twice US National aerobatic champion and a huge aviation enthusiast, actually wants it to be called an aircraft collection. And what a collection it is! 

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With over 60 aircraft based at Polk city and many more all over the world; he owns the worlds largest vintage aircraft collection. FoF opened at its present location in 1995 after a lot of aircraft were destroyed by hurricane Andrew at its previous location near Miami.

Most aircraft are either in flying condition now or are being worked at to be taken to the skies again in the future. Even though on the day I was there the weather did not cooperate, on fair weather days, an aircraft is taken out of the hangar and is flown in front of the public on a daily basis. As Kermit once said, "museums are for dead things"! 

Wood workshop at Fantasy of Flight
Beside having a close look at all the aircraft on display, one is taken on various tours like a visit to the wood workshop and the restoration hangar. All of it makes for a very lively experience, a Florida aviation theme park!

Let me take you on a virtual visit through Fantasy of Flight by showing some of my favorite images:

Nieuport 17, French World War 1 fighter used in the movie, Flyboys
Nieuport 17 French WWI fighter used in the movie Flyboys

Spirit of St Louis at Fantasy of Flight
Replica of the Ryan NYP, "Spirit of St Louis" flown by Charles Lindberg.

Lockheed Vega 5C at Fantasy of Flight
Original 1929 Lockheed Vega, restored to Wiley Post's "Winnie Mae" colors.

Gee Bee's at Fantasy of Flight
Pair of flying replica Gee Bee 1930's racers. Unfortunately both of the single built original planes, crashed in the 30's.

Avro Cadet, 1 of 4 flying
One of 4 remaining Avro Cadet's

TP-40N at Fantasy of Flight
Curtiss TP-40N, often called the predecessor of the next one below, P-51 Mustang

P-51D Mustang at Fantasy of Flight
North American P-51D Mustang

For more info on Kermit Weeks and his amazing collection, follow his blog or read through an interesting article at the Airport Journals.

Hope you enjoyed this (virtual) visit as much as I did last March. If ever you are in the neighborhood, this is a "must" see for each and every aviation enthusiast!

Till next time,
Click that shutter,

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