Sunday 11 Dec 2016

Fantasy of Flight
JR Hafer

When entering Fantasy of Flight at Orlampa, Florida. It is “Magic” and nothing else short of that word can ever come close to describing it! There are no other words that can be used to adequately describe the emotional stirring by the experience.

Certainly many articles have been written of venues that have impressed us. They have often given cause to the overuse of superlatives in describing our experiences. The overuse of a mighty word like “Magic,” for example, has robbed it of the real value, of the ability to paint a descriptive and emotional image; it has degraded the word to an everyday “flag waving” un-magic word. In other words, the word “magic” in itself has lost its own macho!

But this “Magic” word I use is different! It is almost sacred, reverent or perhaps respectful is the proper word to use. Yes, absolutely, that’s it respectfulness, there is an atmosphere of respect there! Respect for what? Read on and you'll find out

It is the “Real Stuff” not the fairyland magic you experience with the “Glitz and Glamour” of the local world famous attractions nearby. The reason is everything you see is authentic and true aviation history!

Oh, “Where is Orlampa?” I thought you might ask. Well, don’t try to find it on your map! You’ll not find it there. It only exists within the gates and the vision of “The Wizard” at his 300 plus acre Fantasy of Flight complex, Kermit Weeks, and a few thousand others.

Actually the physical location is near Polk City, Florida at exit #44 on Interstate 4 halfway between Tampa and Orlando, of course. Thus, there's “Orlampa."

Fantasy of Flight is not a “Theme” park! Although, it does have a definite theme; the theme outwardly seems to be aviation, however, if you look very close you will find it is actually in your own heart.

One can become immersed in authentic aviation at Fantasy of Flight, absorbing the historical experience that will touch your heart. I am convinced souls bless and watch over that place, teaching those who will allow themselves to be moved by such sacrifices made for America.

Fantasy of Flight is not an “Amusement” park! Although you will definitely be amused! Fantasy of Flight is not a museum where often exhibit are replicas. At Fantasy of Flight every aircraft is flyable.

Every day they have Tours of the rebuild shops and some of the planes are actually flown. If you feel brave you can even purchase a ride in a biplane or a balloon.

Fantasy of Flight is not a “Kiddy” park! Although you will definitely feel like a Kid again! You know what they say about the difference between boys and their toys.

Yes, Fantasy of Flight is surely magical, but there is no “Fantasy” to it. The fantasy has evolved to a vision and to a journey for Kermit Weeks; and again it has morphed into a sharing of a journey. Kermit Weeks is sharing his journey with the public thereby the public becomes a part of the journey with him.

Mr. Weeks says, “Everyone can relate to the metaphor of reaching for the sky and the stars, we can soar in our imagination, and we can fly in our dreams, and we want to get people to push their boundaries and strive to be all they can be.”

He has surely done that, he has flown and won many medals in the worlds aerobatics Championships and was United States national aerobatics Champion twice, just to mention a few of his many accomplishments. He is an aeronautical engineer, author, member of the Tony Jannus Society, The Florida Aviation Historical Society and member of the aviator hall of fame.

Kermit Weeks has created a place where people would, if they could, actually come and work without pay just to be around the ambiance and friendly atmosphere there, if he would let them. Now, that is magic!

There is more than magic at Fantasy of Flight, it is more than just ambiance, the hangars are steeped with History I believe those souls who gallantly sacrificed their lives in aircraft like those represented there, are smiling and blessing the place.

There is something missing though: I have been there many times and as I meander around talking to the staff, all of them take the time to talk to me I don’t ever feel as though they wish I would stop talking and move on. I have noticed each one of them lack the one thing all businesses seem to battle constantly though; that is negative attitudes and high stress levels.

The staff at Fantasy of Flight seems to have “zero” levels of stress! Either I have been blind to it or that fact has eluded me. Now, that’s really magic. Because stress comes from the top, therefore Kermit Weeks must have the Magic touch. You got to respect that!

There I go again! I have used the word “Magic” many times. Each time the word Magic was used, for the sake of value, I guarantee it. Fantasy of Flight is for Real, something everyone can respect and so is Kermit Weeks!

Fantasy of Flight has the Magic, and it is the real stuff!

Note: JR Hafer has no relationship, professional or otherwise, with Fantasy of Flight, Kermit Weeks. He's a strong supporter of the ideals and programmes Fantasy of Flight and Kermit Weeks bring to the aviation community and public, at large. 

JR Hafer writes from his home in central Florida.

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