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Fantasy Of Flight Air Museum

by John M. White |

Fantasy of Flight by Kermit Weeks The image on the left is just to the left of the entrance to the "Fantasy of Flight" Museum in Polk City, FL, and sets the tone for your visit to a world long past. I was able to visit the museum last Friday, along with my wife, and confess it is different than many of the other aviation museums I have visited in the past. It was a wonderful October day with bright sunlight, blue skies and perfect temperatures. When we arrived the power had just gone out, but was restored shortly thereafter. Unfortunately it impacted our visit to the start of the tour where the World War I and World War II exhibits were. We stood for quite some time at one stop waiting for a movie which never came on. Sometimes things just don't work out the way we expect.

Early Aircraft

But entering the first hangar we encountered an incredible assortment of early aircraft, some of which we flying reproductions of famous aircraft like the "Winnie Mae" and the "Spirit of St. Louis". As one strolls among these historic aircraft you begin to realize just how far we have come with out modern aircraft filled with electronics and helpful tools of all kinds. These aircraft had basic instrumentation: altimeter, air speed, turn & bank, climb indicator, magnetic compass and some engine instruments. Not much to go on when you consider the distances these aircraft were flown and how many aviation records were set in them.

World War II Aircraft

In the next hangar we found more modern aircraft from World War II. Right away your eyes are drawn to the Mustangs, a P51D in one corner and a P51C in the other corner, bracketing a German Storch observation aircraft soon to be flown for the daily air show. Scattered throughout this hangar were a number of aircraft representing the early days of aviation right after World War II, and you could see the oil drip pans under the engines to catch the oil slowly dripping from those huge radial engines so prevalent in those days.

A Grass Strip!

Those of us who love the old aircraft also love to fly off of sod (grass) strips, and this airport was all grass. The Waldo Wrights company was there with a Stearman and another bi-plane to give rides to those brave enough to go up, and the sound of those radial engines filled the air with clatter and the sounds of power. Kermit Weeks, the owner of the facility, insists that every aircraft be restored to exactly its original condition, and that it be flyable. Looking at some of the aircraft I'm not convinced I would want to fly them, in particular the Gee Bee Z Racer.

The Wood Shop

We found the wood shop fascinating where Ken Kellett works his magic with wood. As one looked at the construction of these early aircraft the use of the triangle, the strongest geometric shape, was quickly noted in the construction of wings and fuselage. Wood Wings of Early Aircraft As it turns out Ken Kellett built his own replica of the original Wright Flyer, and in fact flew it at Kitty Hawk on the 75th anniversary of the original flight by the Wright Brothers. He explained in detail how he would go about creating all 50 of the ribs for a wood wing, each one an exact duplicate of the others through the use of a jig he had built. Demonstrating Wood Wing Construction After our visit with the wood shop Ken strolled out and took the World War II Fiesler Fi-156 "Storch" for a flight around the patch to the delight of all of us there. Of course, all of this lead me to be curious about Kermit Weeks, and I will do a little research and fill you all in on Mr. Weeks. I asked one of the members of the air museum staff how he earned all the money it took to acquire these aircraft, and he told me it was the traditional way - he inherited it! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here! Read More at these interesting blogs:
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