Fun Facts of the 15th A continuing series of reflections in celebration of Fantasy of Flight's 15th birthday
The "Dream Shop" Fantasy of Flight's Restoration Philosophy
Aircraft Restoration Specialist Paul Stecewycz speaks with guests touring the current Restoration Shop.
Behind everything you experience at Fantasy of Flight lies Kermit Weeks' vision and the emphasis he places in preserving vintage aircraft. Asked what he sees as his priority in restoration, Kermit replies, "The value in these aircraft is historic value. We aim for the highest degree of authenticity. As time passes and vintage airplanes become rarer, they also become more valuable and more effort is put on preserving them. For this reason, you'll find more vintage aircraft flying now than you would have 20 or 30 years ago."
The design of Fantasy of Flight reflects this value of ever-increasing emphasis on restoration. What is now the North Display Hangar was designed to be (and will eventually become) Fantasy of Flight's Restoration shop, or as Kermit calls it, the "dream shop," radiating with project rooms and specialty areas, e.g., sheet metal, wood, parts, welding. The width of the North Hangar is specifically designed to accommodate the whopping wingspan of a B-29, and the hangar door has a customized notch at the top to allow access for the tail of the biggest aircraft in the collection: the B-29 and the Short Sunderland.
As Fantasy of Flight continues to expand and more immersion hangars pop up on the field, the "dream shop" will ultimately become a reality. And just imagine the "dream" Restoration Shop tour!
Don't Hold Your Horses
The 13th Annual Mustangs & Mustangs show, the only Mustang event that showcases both restored P-51 Mustang aircraft and hundreds of Ford Mustang autos of all eras, ages and styles, returns on Saturday, April 17.
America's greatest machines show their muscle at this unique car show. Fantasy of Flight general admission is required to attend this event.
If you have a shared passion for war birds and automobiles, come marvel as show cars compete for a "People's Choice" award and rare, restored P-51 fighters perform live aerial demonstrations.
Photo Credit: Marc M. Ellis / H2OPictures.
Mustangs & Mustangs Features Fighter Aces
Third in the Living History Symposium Series, "Victory in the Sky" will also take place Saturday, April 17, featuring American Fighter Aces of World War II. This elite strata of combat pilots shot down five or more hostile aircraft in air-to-air combat, becoming living examples of courage and service. Legendary P-51 Ace Col. Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson will be headlining the panel of heroes during the interactive symposium.
Don't miss this chance to meet several WWII Aces and see their glorious chariot of choice: the North American P-51 Mustang. This symposium is presented in conjunction with Mustangs & Mustangs.
Mirror, Mirror in the Mustang
Dear G. Willie: I had a great day at Fantasy of Flight. Loved the collection and all the cool experiences. My whole family had a ton of fun. One question: how do you keep Mr. Weeks' Mustangs so shiny? Are they supposed to be that bright? --Looking Forward to my Next Visit
G. Willie takes the buffer to the P-51C in the Maintenance Hangar.
As Kermit always reminds us, authenticity is the priority. In fact, the interior of the war birds are restored to fighter specifications, even when it compromises Kermit's comfort. And in battle, no Mustang ace would want an aircraft that shone like the sun and reflected like a mirror.
However, the matte surface of the Mustang in battle is achieved with unpainted aluminum, which is roughly textured because it is actually in a state of gradual surface oxidization, also known as corrosion. The destructive enemy of all antique airplanes is none other than, you guessed it, corrosion.
G. Willie admires his work, the shiny aluminum of the P-51C.
So we keep the Mustangs in a hi-pro glow by buffing the aluminum to a glorious shine. In so doing, we extend their lives and preserve the aircraft for future generations. Plus we think they just look gorgeous glinting in the sunlight, just like the great symbols of achievement they truly are!
the Sun 'n Fun Splash-In accommodated only 25 or so aircraft. Two years ago, Fantasy of Flight stepped forward and, in the spirit of cooperation, offered up the sparkling waters of Lake Agnes and its groomed mile of shoreline. The result: seaplane participation tripled in the first year and grew another 25 percent in the second year.
Every year the event grows and improves! A perfect "win/win" situation for everyone involved. Join us for all the Splash-In fun on Thursday, April 15. Lakefront activities are included with general admission and free for all Annual pass holders.
Meet "Miracle on the Hudson" Co-Pilot
This year, Kermit plans to "splash-in" with special guest Jeff Skiles, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger's co-pilot on the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 now famously known as the "Miracle on the Hudson." Experienced with water landings as he is, perhaps he'll let us know how Lake Agnes compares with the Hudson River!
Meet the famous pilot at a special luncheon at noon on Thursday, April 15 in our Orlampa Conference Center. The luncheon requires a separate reservation of $20 plus tax per person and has limited availability. Click here to make your reservation now.
Last Chance for nightFlight
If you haven't mustered up the courage to join our nightFlight paranormal investigations yet, here's your last chance. The final date for this stage of the investigation has been announced:
One of Fantasy of Flight's "Open Cockpit Days," is scheduled for Saturday, April 17 in conjunction with Mustangs & Mustangs and the "Victory In The Sky" Living History Symposium. This special "Open Cockpit" opportunity offers you a chance to get up close and personal to some of America's most rare vintage aircraft. The Stinson Tri-motor and Spitfire are scheduled as the featured aircraft for this "Open Cockpit" opportunity (subject to change and weather permitting).
Remember: All Annual Pass holders can step inside the featured aircraft for FREE. (The opportunity is available to General Admission guests for an additional fee.)
Fantasy of Flight will be closed for a private event on Saturday, April 3, 2010. The attraction will reopen to the public at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 4, 2010. Please plan your visits accordingly!
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Living History WASP Inspire and Entertain
Recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) were in high-flying form during their Living History Symposiums in late March.
Florence Rubin Mascott, Barry Vincent Smith, Kermit Weeks, Helen Wyatt Snapp, Bernice "Bee" Falk Haydu in front of the North American AT-6 / Photo credit: William A Ruzin, Spring Hill Camera Club, Spring Hill, FL.
In honor of Women's History Month, stories of changing the system while serving their nation were the order of the day. Special guests included four of the original WASP: Bernice "Bee" Falk Haydu, Florence Rubin Mascott, Barry Vincent Smith, and Helen Wyatt Snapp.
Topping off the event: an unforgettable Living Legends Luncheon, saluting the WASP and featuring another special guest, Susan Butler, the author of East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart. Butler's Earhart biography was made into the blockbuster movie Amelia.
Another special visitor landed at the facility last Friday, long-time Fantasy of Flight friend and female pilot and instructor Sarah Wilson. Wilson took Florence Rubin Mascott up in her Stearman, one of Mascott's favorite planes, and they had a blast!
Fantasy of Flight was also pleased to partner with Girls Inc. of Winter Haven as part of last weekend's activities. The attraction sponsored a field trip to Saturday's symposium, granting twelve girls a unique chance to meet these groundbreaking women.
Helen Wyatt Snapp and Bernice "Bee" Falk Haydu with Girls Inc. members and staff. Photo Credit: Don Keeton Photography