Fokker, Albatros, Snipe Replicas Part Of Legends & Legacies Symposium Series
Exceptionally rare aircraft seldom seen in the last 100 years will buzz through the Polk County skies for live, aerial demonstrations and flybys, as Fantasy of Flight will take guests on an extraordinary journey through the gallant aerial history of World War I on Saturday. Some of the vintage WWI replica aircraft are exact replicas the attraction purchased from a collection built by the New Zealand team of award-winning Hollywood director and producer Peter Jackson, whose works include the "The Lord of The Rings" film trilogy and, most recently, "The Hobbit." The aerial beauties include the Fokker D.VIII (D8), which won the last aerial battle of World War I, the Fokker Lei and the venerable Albatros D-Va and Sopwith Snipe aircraft with originally restored engines.
Along with a chance to see some of the rarest aircraft in the world in the skies, for the first time ever, Fantasy of Flight's Legends & Legacies Symposium Series will turn back the clock to 1914 as it hosts "The First World War" symposium by noted historian, author and professor Dr. Graydon A. "Jack" Tunstall.
Tunstall, history professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, is considered one of the world's most renowned experts on World War I. "We continually seek ways to grow our Legends & Legacies Symposium Series so we were thrilled to discover that one of the nation's, if not the world's, foremost experts on World War I, Dr. Graydon A. Tunstall, was willing to come and share his incredible insights and years of research and writing with our guests," said Kim Long, general manager of Fantasy of Flight. "This is a truly unique opportunity to learn what it was really like for the pilots and soldiers engaged in battles in the air and on the ground, and to learn how a war fought nearly a century ago on foreign soil still impacts our military today."
During his one-day appearance at Fantasy of Flight's Legends & Legacies event, Dr. Tunstall will share with guests an in-depth and extraordinary glimpse into "The Great War" of 1914 to 1918, explaining how the rapid expansion of air power in the war formed the cornerstone of modern warfare, including squadron tactics, reconnaissance missions, fighter planes and bombers. He will educate listeners on tactics, strategies and roles of each country's air power, and share, for example, how two groups of aircraft engaged in aerial "dog fights" and how the world's first aircraft carrier was developed.
More importantly, Dr. Tunstall will share with guests an insider's look at the lives of the brave men who piloted these often temperamental planes. "Pilots were considered heroes. They were represented as knights, just like the Middle Ages, because they were engaged in one-on-one battle rather than millions fighting in the trenches," attraction owner Kermit Weeks explains. "Nobody knew during the war, and a lot of people still didn't know after the war, that the casualty rate was astronomical. In one year, 50 to 70 percent of the pilots for each country could be killed. This was because of faulty aircraft and weather as much as it was combat. To get up in an aircraft during World War I, you had to be of a different mind. It was just insane."
The "First World War" symposium will feature open-forum question-and-answer sessions as well as meet/greet autograph and book signings with Dr. Tunstall.
Special displays for the event will include a presentation by Fantasy of Flight pilot and restoration expert, Ken Kellet, who flew as a stunt pilot in the 2006 film, "Flyboys" as well as a demonstration of a rotary engine that actually produces sparks when fired up!
(Albatros D-Va replica photo provided by Fantasy of Flight)