Each aircraft at Fantasy of Flight has been meticulously restored, the majority are in airworthy condition and some are extremely rare. They range in size from a Lockheed Constellation airliner and Sunderland flying boat to the diminutive Gee Bee racers from the 1930s; around 40 aircraft in total though not all of them are at Polk City.
Note as the original Fantasy of Flight attraction is currently closed, this article describes the attraction before the closure. Click here to read about the current Fantasy of Flight attraction.
Fantasy of Flight closed on April 6, 2014 but has re-opened in January 2015 with a revised format
Fantasy of Flight is a good example of how theme park entertainment can be brought to a museum.
Representing the earliest days of flight are aircraft from the First World War including a Curtis Model D Headless Pusher, Fokker D-VIII, Morane A–1 monoplane, Standard E–1, Standard J–1 and Thomas Morse Scout.
From the inter-war years, there is a Ford 5AT Trimotor airliner used on the early “Coast to Coast” flights, one of only two Stinson Tri-Motors in the world, a Lockheed Vega (the same type flown by Amelia Earhart) and one of the Ryan Spirit of St. Louis replicas. There are also two diminutive air racer replicas, the Gee Bee Z and the Gee Bee R–2 looking for all the world like toy planes.
A large part of the collection consists of Second World War fighter aircraft from all sides including a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero, North American P–51C Mustang, Supermarine Spitfire Mk16, Chance-Vought F4U–4 Corsair and Grumman FM–2 Wildcat.
There are also several bombers from the same period including a Consolidated B–24J Liberator, North American B–25J Mitchell, Martin B–26 Marauder and the last remaining airworthy Shorts Sunderland flying boat which was subsequently converted into an airliner.
Trainer aircraft are well represented by amongst others, a Nord Stampe, Avro Cadet, North American AT–6D, Russian Polikarpov PO–2 and a trio of German Buckers, namely a Bestmann, Jungmann and Jungmeister.
There are a few odd-ball exhibits including a German Bachem Ba–349 Natter (Viper) liquid fuelled rocket interceptor and Fiesler Fi–103 V–1 Flying Bomb from World War II and the quirky Trautman Road Air flying car (which only ‘flew’ once to a height of 3 feet!!). There are also several cockpit sections that you can climb into and get a feel of what they would be like to fly.
Click here to read about the sight and sound immersion experience, opening hours and details about Kermit Weeks.
Each day, there are several free guided tours of the facilities and the “Aircraft of the Day” performs an aerial demonstration (subject to the weather). Tram tours take you to previously inaccessible parts of the site.
The “Engine & Machine Shop Tour” takes you to some of the warehouses where many of the spare parts and aircraft awaiting restoration are housed. Imagine walking into a large warehouse with literally hundreds of aircraft engines stored on pallets from floor to ceiling. Kermit Weeks is certainly a hoarder and outside there are stacks of sea containers full of hidden wonders !!
The “Sheet Metal & Aircraft Assembly Tour” gets you close to the action where you can see skilled craftsmen working on the restoration of some of the aircraft. There is also a “Aircraft Maintenance Tour” and “Wood Shop & Aircraft Fabric Tour” where you can see how early wood and fabric covered aircraft were put together.
In 2013, Fantasy of Flight expanded their tours with access to the two hangars that make up the 40,000 sq. ft. Golden Hill Storage Facility, where many more aircraft after awaiting restoration.
As well as all the aircraft exhibits there is also a very interesting exhibit “They Dared To Fly”, dedicated to the African-American Tuskegee Airmen of World War II and the Officer’s Club where you can watch videos.
If you fancy being a fighter pilot then make your way to Fighter Town, a replica of the flight deck of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. Here after a short lesson, you board your Corsair fighter simulator to fly a combat mission over the Pacific. They even have one that takes a wheel chair.
There is also a full motion simulator, the Virtual Flight Explorer, where you can experience a variety of different flights including the Barnstormers, Desert Storm Strike, Seahawk - Battle for Iwo Jima or a Virtual Time Machine.
The newest attraction is the “Fun With Flight Experience” where you can fly a hang glider simulator, design and make your own paper airplanes in the Fly Zone and learn the principles of lift with Bernoulli’s Ball.