During a press visit to Central Florida in 2009, I immediately fell in love with Fantasy in Flight. As someone who loves to fly, I was captivated by the history and aircraft collection that owner Kermit Weeks put together. Visitors learned the history of aviation starting with man’s earliest efforts to take flight and then how aviation played a role in both World War I and World War II. In fact, in the WWII exhibit, you even got to climb aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress, and experience how military personnel fought the enemy by air.
Afterward, visitors moved into the hangars, where they could view Weeks’ aviation collection. Since the 1970s, Weeks has amassed more than 140 civilian and military aircraft, all of which are still in flyable condition. The collection ranges from a 1916 Morane-Saulnier monoplane to a 1944 P-51C Mustang from World War II, and many pieces in between. Two of my favorites are the 1917 Fokker DR-1 Triplane that resembles Snoopy’s nemesis The Red Baron, and an Army helicopter used by MASH units like those we saw in all those “M*A*S*H” episodes.
Sadly, on March 4, I received this bit of news via the Fantasy of Flight Facebook page: “After 18 years of being in operation, it’s time we close the attraction and move forward toward creating the vision for what I know Fantasy of Flight can become,” Weeks said. Right now, plans are to focus on restoration and maintenance of aircraft, with a focus on hosting corporate and special events. These include team building excursions, birthday parties and weddings. Thankfully, there are plans to reopen to the public later this year with, as Weeks stated, “an aspect of the collection in a reduced capacity and admission price.”
Although I don’t know how that will take form, I do know I will be looking forward to the announcement that Fantasy of Flight will be welcoming the public to once more view its incredible collection. In the meantime, visitors can still head over and tackle Wing WalkAir, a new ropes course with a zipline. During my recent visit to Fantasy of Flight, my daughter and I took to the air on the ropes course. Rising up three levels to a height of 40 feet in the air, Wing WalkAir features horizontal ladders, balance beams, rope walls and other challenges as you make your way through the course.
My daughter completed a ropes course a couple of years ago as I watched, but I was excited to go with her this time around. Although she was nervous at the beginning, she refused to stop and instead persevered through each new challenge. I let her choose which new path she wanted to take and was thrilled each time she celebrated with a giddy, “I did it!” at the conclusion. It’s a great ropes course for all skill levels, and one I hope to experience again in the future.
Until Fantasy of Flight reopens to the general public, I highly recommend celebrating your next special occasion at the facility and finding your own path on the Wing WalkAir course. It could be your own small journey of self-discovery just as Fantasy of Flight embarks on its own path. And be sure to follow Fantasy in Flight’s evolution on its Facebook page. As Weeks stated, ““This isn’t the end of Fantasy of Flight, it’s just the next step on the company’s journey to become what it was always meant to be – a quality attraction that uses entertainment as a means to an end for self-discovery and self-transformation. Think of this as a caterpillar going into its cocoon. We expect to re-emerge as a brand-new butterfly!” Now why would you want to miss that?
Disclosure: Karon and her family visited Fantasy of Flight as guests of the attraction. All opinions are her own.