Fantasy of Flight
If you have any interest in aviation, especially from World War I to II then you will enjoy a visit to the Fantasy of Flight aviation museum.
Fantasy of Flight is the brainchild of Kermit Weeks who is a renowned US aerobatic pilot. He has the world's largest private aircraft collection of over 120 aircraft from the Golden Era of flying, many restored to flying condition. In fact his fleet of flying aircraft is larger than some countries military air forces!
Fantasy of Flight originally opened in 1995 after moving from Miami but it closed in 2014 and re-opened the next year as a “lite” seasonal attraction whilst work starts on a much more ambitious project.
Fantasy of Flight is located mid way between Tampa and Orlando in Polk City, a few minutes from exit 44 of I-4. It is just over a 30 minute drive from our villa. If you are approaching from the west (Tampa direction), look out for the Douglas DC-3 aircraft next to the interstate.
Click the button to display a map showing the location of our villa on Eagle Pointe and the Fantasy of Flight museum. Other nearby attractions include Bok Tower Gardens, Legoland Florida and Waterpark, Circle B Bar Reserve and the Florida Air Museum. Close the map by clicking on the X in the top right.
Open times: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday to Sunday (seasonal)
Admission: $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for seniors (55+), $8:00 for children (6-12), free for children under 6
Address: 1400 Broadway Blvd SE, Polk City, FL 33868
Tel: (863) 984 3500
At present it is only open seasonally:
- Winter/Spring, from mid June to late July
- Summer/Fall, from November to mid April
The site, Orlampa Inc. Airport, consists of twin large Art-Deco style “North” and “South” hangars, a maintenance hangar and the “Golden Hill” storage facility. Originally the museum operated out of the main hangars but today it has taken over the maintenance hangar.
As well as a long and a short grass runway, it also boasts 6,000 feet of take off and landing space on Lake Agnes for seaplanes.
Even though the current museum is only part of what it was in terms of exhibits when it originally opened it is still an interesting trip out.
Whilst you are welcome to walk around the museum on your own, it is worth catching up with one of the tour guides.
Fantasy of Flight Aircraft Exhibits
There are around 25 aircraft on display and the centrepiece of the current exhibits is an American Consolidated B-24J Liberator four engined Second World War bomber.
It is not the only large aircraft that Kermit Weeks owns as there is also a Lufthansa Lockheed L-1649A Starliner Constellation airliner parked outside the hangar and over in the main hangars are a converted Shorts Sunderland Mk 5 flying boat and a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress bomber though these hangars are not currently open to the public.
There are a number of World War I fighters from France, Germany and the UK including a Fokker Dr.1 Triplane replica painted in the famous colours of Baron von Richthofen “The Red Baron”.
There are a few inter-war aircraft including a couple of seaplanes and some aircraft from the World War II period.
One of the most interesting collections is a series of extremely rare (and brightly painted) air racers from between the war years including a Granville Gee Bee Super Sportster Z-1 replica and a Granville Gee Bee Super Sportster R-2 replica. They are so dumpy it is hard to imagine how they can fly!
As well as the aircraft there are also a number of aero engines including an entire rack of Allison V-1710 V-12 engines as fitted to several US World War II fighters like the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and early North American P-51 Mustangs. Also on display is an example of the V-1710’s experimental successor, the mammoth V-24 Alison V3420.
When the original storage facilities were open to tours, there was one shed we went in that was filled with literally hundreds of aero engines.
Next to the reception area in the Orlampa Conference Center lobby is a gift shop selling aviation related memorabilia and clothing.
Alas the 1930s style Compass Rose Diner restaurant which is located in the original main buildings is currently closed but there are several fast food restaurants nearby on State Road 559 just the other side of the I-4.
Fantasy of Flight Act III
Kermit Weeks has big plans for the future of Fantasy of Flight, which he is calling his “Act III” project.
The intention is to display the aircraft collection in “period” settings, like early Pioneers, World War I, the Golden Age, World War II and even a 1930s Pan Am Clipper style seaplane base with its own terminal building on the lake shore.
Running from the existing maintenance museum hangar will be a series of new “lands” with hangars, a restaurant and a control tower overlooking both runways with decks for people to watch the aircraft.
The idea is to create an entirely new immersive experience, more akin to the sort of experiences of a theme park, not simply an aircraft museum.
You will be transported back in time to witness the sights and sounds of a bygone era, there will even be the chance to fly in a vintage airliner.
Waldo Wright's Flying Service
A separate company called Waldo Wright's Flying Service operate vintage barnstorming biplane joy flights from outside the hangar on days the museum is open.
They have a pair of New Standard D-25s and a 1940s World War II Boeing Stearman N2S-3. The also have a three seater 1929 Travel Air E-4000 that is currently being converted to operate as a seaplane.
The New Standard can carry up to four passengers in its open cockpit whilst the Stearman is a two seater dual-control trainer so can only carry a single passenger. At present the New Standards are operating in Michigan.
The Boeing Stearman “Cadet Experience” is a 30 minute hands-on flight and costs $229.00 plus tax and a $10.00 fuel surcharge. You get the chance to take the controls but there are no aerobatics.
Further details can be found at the Waldo Wright's Flying Service website.