Fantasy of Flight

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Fantasy of Flight
New Standard D-25 1931 9 Waldo Wright Fantasy of Flight Splash ramp SNFSI FOF 15April2010 (14630315535).jpg
Aerial view of the site
Fantasy of Flight is located in Florida
Fantasy of Flight
Location within Florida
Fantasy of Flight is located in the United States
Fantasy of Flight
Fantasy of Flight (the United States)
EstablishedNovember 11, 1995; 27 years ago (1995-11-11)
LocationPolk City, Florida
Coordinates28°10′16″N 81°48′32″W / 28.171192°N 81.808787°W / 28.171192; -81.808787
TypeAviation attraction
Collection sizeover 150 aircraft
FounderKermit Weeks
Websitefantasyofflight.com

Fantasy of Flight is an aviation museum in Polk City, Florida.

It opened in November 1995, to house Kermit Weeks' collection of aircraft that, until Hurricane Andrew damaged many in 1992, were housed at the Weeks Air Museum in Tamiami, Florida, On April 6, 2014, it closed to the public, aside from private events and on January 30, 2015, it opened a scaled-down museum displaying a small selection of aircraft while the facility is upgraded for a future reopening.[1]

Many of the aircraft displayed are airworthy and some are flown from the facility's grass runways or its seaplane runway.[2]

Facility[edit]

General Layout of Fantasy of Flight

The facility's main buildings consist of the two large "North" and "South" hangars where aircraft are displayed, the restoration shops, an immersion environment, the gift shop, and the Compass Rose, an Art Deco diner. Across from the entrance are a ropes course and zip line amusements.[3]

Adjoining the hangars there is a 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 and storage and additional restoration facilities. Storage facilities located across Broadway Blvd are accessible to the public via a guided tour.[4] The adjacent Lake Agnes permits seaplane operations, with a designated landing/takeoff area on 18/36 and a ramp to the taxiway.

Aircraft operations[edit]

Boeing PT-17 Stearman

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 during parts of the year and operates a Boeing PT-17 Stearman and a New Standard D-25. The 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 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.

Collection[edit]

The Fantasy of Flight collection contains the following aircraft, although not all are present at any given time as they may be rented out to other facilities, or flown to events, or undergoing additional maintenance or restoration. Most of the collection is in the north and south hangars which are now closed to the public, while a small number are displayed at the interim museum in the old maintenance hangar. In 2012, the "Golden Hill" storage facility opened across the road from the main facility. A number of aircraft have been re-located into this new building, notably the Douglas B-23 Dragon and the Boeing B-29 Superfortress nose.[6]

Kermit Weeks boards Albatros D.Va 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.
Standard J-1 used 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 two remaining Stinson Tri-Motors.
One of 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
One of three remaining airworthy P-51C Mustangs
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

The immersion environments are part of the main facility now closed to the public, but are available as part of the facilities which can be rented for events. 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.

Golden Hill Storage Facility[edit]

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

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]

N1944A[edit]

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

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]

Douglas DC-3 attraction sign[edit]

DC-3 attraction sign

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.

The Compass Rose Diner[edit]

Patrons at the Compass Rose
Patrons at the Compass Rose

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 was open to the public and served a short-order menu similar to that of lunch counters popularized during the pre-World War II era. When the main facility was closed to the public in 2014, the diner was closed and much of its equipment sold off, though the space itself is still available as part of the venue's rental offerings.

Partial closing[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.[29] 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.[1] As of 2017 the museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and most Sundays.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "General aviation in the marketplace". General Aviation News/. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2012-04-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Fantasy of Flight – Florida Air Museums – Orlando – Kermit Weeks – Best Vacation Guide". Totalorlando.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  4. ^ Kermit (2012-02-16). "New Storage Facility and Tour! | Kermit's Blog". Blog.kermitweeks.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. 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. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "1911 Barber Valkyrie replica". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  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. Archived from the original on 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  12. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "Douglas B-23 Dragon". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  13. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "Focke-Wulf Fw 44". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  14. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "Grumman F3F". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  15. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "Hiller Hornet". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Lockheed Constellation Survivors". conniesurvivors.com. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  17. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "Lockheed Vega". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  18. ^ Marauder survivors
  19. ^ Morane AI survivors
  20. ^ Morane/Brock Monoplane description – a variant of the Morane-Saulnier H)
  21. ^ "P-51 Mustang Survivors - MustangsMustangs.com". www.mustangsmustangs.com. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  22. ^ "P-51 Mustang Survivors - MustangsMustangs.com". www.mustangsmustangs.com. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  23. ^ "1944 Short Sunderland". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  24. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "Standard E-1". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  25. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (9 September 2013). "Stinson Airliner". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  26. ^ "Spitfire." Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved: 6 March 2011.
  27. ^ Thomas-Morse Scout survivors
  28. ^ "Kermit Weeks' Facebook Page". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  29. ^ Jackovics, Ted (4 March 2014). "Fantasy of Flight closing as daily attraction". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2020-01-31.

External links[edit]

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