Fantasy of Flight

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Fantasy of Flight
Fantasy of Flight is located in Florida
Fantasy of Flight
Location within Florida
Established November 11, 1995; 18 years ago (1995-11-11)
Location Polk City, Florida
Coordinates 28°10′16″N 81°48′32″W / 28.171192°N 81.808787°W / 28.171192; -81.808787
Type Aviation attraction
Collection size over 150 aircraft
Website [1]

Fantasy of Flight is an aviation-related attraction in Polk City, Florida, USA that takes visitors back to the pioneering days of early flight, World War I, World War II and beyond. The attraction opened in November 1995, and houses the world's largest private aircraft collection on display. It became the new home for much of owner Kermit Weeks' collection of aircraft that were previously housed at the Weeks Air Museum in Tamiami, Florida and were damaged to varying degrees by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. On April 6, 2014, the attraction was closed to the public, though is still being maintained and is available for private events. There are plans to reopen a scaled-down museum attraction in late 2014 while the rest of the facility is upgraded and planned to reopen sometime between 2017 and 2020. [1]

Fantasy of Flight was the only attraction in the world to offer daily aerial demonstrations (weather permitting) of aircraft in its collection. Most of Weeks' aircraft are airworthy and may still be seen flying from one of the facility's grass runways or its seaplane runway. In fact, Fantasy of Flight fields more airworthy aircraft than the air forces of Austria, Cuba, Denmark, Kuwait, Portugal or South Africa. Counting strictly fixed-wing aircraft, Fantasy of Flight fields more airworthy fixed-wing aircraft than either the Royal Navy or the Indian Navy.[2]

Facility[edit]

General Layout of Fantasy of Flight

The facility features a main building consisting of two large hangars (called "North" and "South") for the aircraft on display, restoration shops, the immersion environments, a gift shop and the Art Deco themed Compass Rose Diner. Just outside the main building across from the entrance is the facility's new ropes course and zip line attraction known as "Wing Walk Air."[3]

Outside the hangars there is an adjoining tarmac and two grass runways. On the north side of the runways are a maintenance hangar and conference facility. A "back lot" to the south of the main complex contains warehouses, storage and restoration facilities. More storage facilities are located across Broadway Blvd and are opened to the public as part of the tour.[4] Lake Agnes is also on the property to allow for seaplane operations, with a designated landing/takeoff area on 18/36 and a ramp to taxiway on the eastern shore.

Aircraft operations[edit]

The airfield is officially known as the "Orlampa Inc. Airport" and uses the airport identifier "FA08." The field sits at an estimated elevation of 129 feet (42 meters). It is designated as private use only and special permission is needed to land there. The field is generally closed to all non-company traffic. The airfield consists of two turf runways: runway 4/22 (5090 x 125 ft. / 1551 x 38 m) and runway 14/32 (2500 x 100 ft. / 762 x 30 m). The airfield appears as "Orlampa" on the Jacksonville sectional chart.[5] The name "Orlampa" was originated by Kermit Weeks based on the airfield being approximately midway between the cities of Orlando and Tampa.

Waldo Wright's Flying Service offers airplane rides for sale from the Fantasy of Flight field and operates a Boeing PT-17 Stearman and a New Standard D-25. The Boeing Stearman is used for 30 minute long 'hands-on experience' flights, in which the customer takes control of the aircraft at some point during the flight. The New Standard D-25 is used for 15 minute Barnstorming flights, in which up to four customers sit in the forward open cockpit of the aircraft as a qualified pilot flies the aircraft.

Also operating daily (weather permitting) is Fantasy of Flight's "Aircraft of the Day" demonstration. Visitors can observe a flying demonstration by one of the attractions' many flyable aircraft. The choice of aircraft is subject to both pilot and aircraft availability as well as prevailing flying conditions.

Collection[edit]

The Fantasy of Flight collection contains the following aircraft, although the aircraft are not always present at the museum. Some are on loan to other facilities, others may be flown to events, still others may be off display for maintenance or restoration. Most of the collection is on display in the main attraction complex hangars, with much of the balance housed in the maintenance hangar which is on the Behind The Scenes tram tour. In 2012, the "Golden Hill" storage facility attraction opened just across the road from the main facility. A number of aircraft have been re-located into this new building, notably the B-23 Dragon and the B-29 Superfortress nose section, whilst the buildings have been re-arranged in order to allow visitor access.[6]

Kermit Weeks boards his Albatros D.Va in preparation for its first flight at Fantasy of Flight
Kermit Weeks boards his Albatros D.Va in preparation for its first flight at Fantasy of Flight
Fantasy of Flight's Bell 47G displayed in foreground, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.16 behind, and Cierva C.30A autogyro in the upper right. The B-26 stands in the background.
Fantasy of Flight's Bell 47G displayed in foreground, Supermarine Spitfire Mk.16 behind, and Cierva C.30A autogyro in the upper right. The B-26 stands in the background.
This Standard J-1 appeared in the films The Spirit of St. Louis and The Great Waldo Pepper.
This Standard J-1 appeared in the films The Spirit of St. Louis and The Great Waldo Pepper.
One of only two remaining Stinson Tri-Motors.
One of only two remaining Stinson Tri-Motors.
The last remaining airworthy B-26 Marauder.
The last remaining airworthy B-26 Marauder.
One of three remaining airworthy P-51C Mustangs in the world.
One of three remaining airworthy P-51C Mustangs in the world.
The last remaining airworthy Sunderland.
The last remaining airworthy Sunderland.
The PBY Catalina with the main building and North Hangar in the background.
The PBY Catalina with the main building and North Hangar in the background.
The Lockheed Vega painted in the scheme of Wiley Post's Winnie Mae.
The Lockheed Vega painted in the scheme of Wiley Post's Winnie Mae.

Immersion environments[edit]

WWI Immersion Experience
WWI Immersion Experience

Visitors walk through several immersion environments as they enter the attraction. From the lobby, guests walk into the interior of a World War II-era Douglas C-47 Skytrain complete with lighting and sound effects as if the aircraft were conducting paratrooper operations. Guests pass a seated paratrooper in full kit and move forward toward the Jumpmaster figure standing at the open side hatch. Over the hatch blinks a red "Ready" light which switches to a green "Jump" light as the guest approaches the hatch. Through the hatch is the entry to the attraction.

Other immersion environments include a "sensation of flight" simulator, followed by a celebration of the early days of flight. Then, a passage covered by heavy shrapnel-resistant curtains leads visitors into a full-scale representation of the trench warfare of World War I, complete with aircraft overhead. It was, in part, due to the development of aerial warfare that trench fighting became obsolete.

The final immersion display includes the collection's Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress housed in a large darkened room staged to appear as a winter evening at RAF Horham, home of the 95th Bombardment Group (Heavy) during World War II. The full-scale diorama, complete with ground vehicles, outbuildings and landscaping, represents a maintenance area and one of the B-17's engine cowlings and propellers are removed to maintenance stands in front of the aircraft. Guests can enter the plane via the aft side hatch in the tail, walk through the bomb bay, visit the cockpit, and exit near the nose of the aircraft.

General view of Golden Hill Building 1 opened to the public in the summer of 2012
General view of Golden Hill Building 1 opened to the public in the summer of 2012

Golden Hill Storage Facility[edit]

For years Fantasy of Flight has maintained a storage building opposite the main property on the north side of Broadway Boulevard where aircraft awaiting restoration were stored. In late 2011, work began on a second building to double the storage space with the intention of spreading out the stored items a bit and opening the buildings to the public on a limited basis. Finally, in June 2011 preparations were sufficient to open one building for a special preview over the Father's Day holiday. The response to the limited, self-guided experience was overwhelmingly positive, and the building joined the attraction's public programming in the summer of 2012, with the second building scheduled to open shortly thereafter.

The buildings are known by Fantasy of Flight as the "Golden Hill" facility as a tongue in cheek reference to the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility of the National Air and Space Museum which is nicknamed "Silver Hill" by the NASM staff. Fantasy of Flight guest access to the Golden Hill facility is via over-the-road trolley operated from the main parking lot in the mornings. Guests are allowed to explore the facility on their own with docents present to answer questions. The facility closes at midday due to the lack of comfortable air handling equipment in the steel buildings which can get hot in the Florida sun.[6]

Crews work to solve an oil leak on N1944A prior to departure from England
Crews work to solve an oil leak on N1944A prior to departure from England

The Journey of N1944A[edit]

In the summer of 2011, Kermit Weeks and a crew from Fantasy of Flight flew to Cotswold Airport in the United Kingdom to evaluate a Douglas C-47 Skytrain for possible purchase. The aircraft has a distinguished war record including sorties during the D-Day invasion and Operation Market Garden.

At the end of July, Weeks went forward with the purchase. His crew conducted minor repairs and the plane, registration number N1944A, was flown back to the United States by Weeks and his crew. Due to weather delays on some legs of the trip, the journey took a total of 11 days and covered approximately 4500 miles from Kemble, UK to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Fans of the aircraft, Kermit Weeks or Fantasy of Flight were able to watch the trip documented daily on Fantasy of Flight's Facebook page as the crew sent back pictures and observations along the way.

The aircraft arrived without incident on August 4, 2011 at Oshkosh. It was on display at the EAA AirVenture Museum for several months before being moved permanently to the campus of Fantasy of Flight in Polk City. On May 1, 2012, the C-47 was finally flown south to Fantasy of Flight, arriving on May 2 after an overnight stop in Douglas, Georgia. The aircraft is now on display at the attraction and open to guest walk-throughs.[6]

Fantasy of Flight for Microsoft Flight Simulator X[edit]

Microsoft Flight Simulator X was released with a simplistic model of the Fantasy of Flight facility which users could navigate to and use for landing and takeoff. In April 2012, a fan of FSX and a part-time developer of scenery add-ons for the program, Vassilios Dimoulas of Greece, began work on an ultra-realistic scenery add-on for the Fantasy of Flight facility. Having seen the work in progress on the web, Fantasy of Flight contacted Dimoulas and volunteered their help in providing reference photographs and other information to make the add-on as realistic as possible. The first version of the add-on was released in June 2012 on library.avsim.net and on sim-outhouse.com as Fantasy_Of_Flight_VD_v1_0.zip and is a free download.[30]

Douglas DC-3[edit]

Standing along the side of Interstate 4 near the exit for Fantasy of Flight is a Douglas DC-3 painted with the attraction's name to get the attention of passers by. The aircraft itself is not part of the collection and was, in fact, specifically purchased for its intended purpose as an attraction sign. The airframe is far too corroded to make restoration of the DC-3 feasible. The aircraft was displayed for a period of time in a 'crashed' position, nose down in the ground with a mannequin hanging from the tail wheel, apparently a 'man' evacuating the aircraft with a parachute. The mannequin was dressed up for certain occasions around the year, including Santa Claus for Christmas, Uncle Sam for Independence Day and a Pilgrim for Thanksgiving.

The aircraft in this crashed position received a mixture of criticism and compliments. Some people claimed that the display made the aircraft look bad and set a bad example to airline passengers without an aviation background, while others found the position of the aircraft comical and many enjoyed guessing what the mannequin would be dressed as next. Currently, the aircraft is in an upright position with the mannequin seated in the opened cockpit hatch on the left hand side.

Patrons at the Compass Rose
Patrons at the Compass Rose

The Compass Rose Diner[edit]

Adjacent to the attraction's lobby is an Art Deco themed restaurant called "The Compass Rose Diner" which features the characteristics of diners associated with airports during the 1930s and early 1940s. The restaurant features tall windows, multi-hued terrazzo floors and the curved architectural lines associated with the Art Deco period. The diner is open to the public and serves a short-order menu similar to that of lunch counters popularized during the pre-World War II era.

End of an Era[edit]

On March 4, 2014, Fantasy of Flight announced that they would close to the public after April 6, 2014 but continue to stage private events. They further announced that they would reopen to the public in late 2014 as a scaled down museum, with reduced admission prices, while they simultaneously begin to design and build the main facility into more of a destination attraction that would appeal to a wider audience rather than just aviation aficionados.[31] Ironically, the announcement that the facility would soon be closing its doors to the public has caused a significant upswell in visitors. Crowds have been so large that the facility has had to make use of its overflow parking area on multiple occasions since the announcement.[32]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "General aviation in the marketplace". General Aviation News/. Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  2. ^ http://www.uknda.org/my_documents/my_files/RAF_TheWorldsAirForces1.1.pdf
  3. ^ "Fantasy of Flight - Florida Air Museums - Orlando - Kermit Weeks - Best Vacation Guide". Totalorlando.com. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  4. ^ Kermit (2012-02-16). "New Storage Facility and Tour! | Kermit's Blog". Blog.kermitweeks.com. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  5. ^ "FA08 - Orlampa Inc Airport". AirNav. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  6. ^ a b c "Fantasy of Flight - Polk City, FL - Public Places & Attractions, Museum". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  7. ^ Surviving Avro Cadets
  8. ^ 1911 Barber Valkyrie replica description
  9. ^ "Kermit Weeks' Facebook Page". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  10. ^ "Kermit Weeks' Facebook Page". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  11. ^ Kermit (2012-01-23). "Tico Airshow in the TP-40N! | Kermit's Blog". Blog.kermitweeks.com. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  12. ^ B-23 description
  13. ^ Focke Wulf FW-44 description
  14. ^ Grumman F3F description
  15. ^ Hiller Hornet description
  16. ^ N974R c/n 1040 - Lockheed Constellation Survivors
  17. ^ Lockheed Vega description
  18. ^ Marauder survivors
  19. ^ Morane AI survivors
  20. ^ Morane/Brock Monoplane description - Aircraft is a modified Morane-Saulnier H)
  21. ^ P-51 Mustang Survivors
  22. ^ P-51 Mustang Survivors
  23. ^ Short Sunderland description
  24. ^ Standard E-1 description
  25. ^ Stinson Trimotor description
  26. ^ "Spitfire." Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved: 6 March 2011.
  27. ^ Thomas-Morse Scout survivors
  28. ^ Trautman Road Air flying car description
  29. ^ "Kermit Weeks' Facebook Page". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  30. ^ "FA08 - Polk City - Fantasy of Flight - Development update". Sim-outhouse.com. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  31. ^ "Fantasy of Flight closing as daily attraction". tbo.com. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  32. ^ "General aviation in the marketplace". General Aviation News/. Retrieved 2013-03-14. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°10′16″N 81°48′32″W / 28.171192°N 81.808787°W / 28.171192; -81.808787