By Aleta Vinas, ANN Correspondent
Mustangs, panthers and
cobras, oh my!
Kermit Weeks' incomparable 'Fantasy of Flight' aviation
attraction in Polk City (FL) was overrun by powerful beasts this
past weekend (April 8-10). Beasts of the rubber tire variety as
opposed to the furry footed variety.
The well-attended three day show brought hundreds of Ford Pony
cars and a few other varieties, to the Air Museum. From 1964 1/2 to
2005, they were almost all represented. The chrome gleamed and high
gloss painted shined on these “babies”. Almost all of
them looked as if they had just rolled off the showroom floor.
The ‘Stang owners, while quite proud to show off their
beauties in public, are also very protective. Some folks
interviewed preferred not to mention where they were from, some
even declined to be interviewed at all. You can’t blame them
for their cautiousness. Even if insured, can the money ever replace
the years spent on such careful, loving restorations?
A Mr. Conklin brought in a rare 1971 Boss 351. Only 1806 were
made that year, with only one other having all the same options as
Mr. Conklin’s. He has restored the car to 'concours' class
but still has a bit more work to do. Concours refers to restoring
the car back to the same appearance as when it was on the showroom
floor in 1971 -- same equipment -- and no modifications.
Conklin has had the ’71 for two and a half years and did
all the work himself. “I have literally put my hands on every
square inch of the car.” He said “Bodywork
included.” Do these pristine beauties get any time on the
road? Not this one... the only driving is on and off the trailer to
head to the next car show. Mr. Conklin explains that, “I
guess you can say she’s a trailer queen.” The Boss is
his third Mustang in four years and the prior two were sold to buy
The Garner’s brought their pink 1967 Fastback, with
matching pink fire extinguisher. The Garner’s use the
Fastback for daily driving but it certainly didn’t look it.
The Garner’s are the second owner and the car was white when
they bought it. The pink was an official special order color from
Ford and Mrs. Garner wanted it brought back to the original
The Garner’s have been Mustang fans all their married
lives, which has been 35 years (and still going). They started
showing in 1997. Mr. Garner does the restoration. “He takes
it down to frame and builds it back up.” Mrs. Garner says
proudly, “He does all the work himself.” Mrs. Garner
takes care of the cleaning.
Only two Mustangs, of the flying variety, were present on
Sunday, though a third P-51 did make a brief appearance. It took a
break from the MacDill airshow going on in Tampa (FL) and did a
high speed fly-by. It landed for a short stay, then promptly sped
off. Do come back again, fella...
The two P-51’s on display belonged to Fantasy of Flight
owner and aviator Kermit Weeks. Andy Salter, who takes care of the
machine shop, powerplant and hydraulics as part of the engineering
team at Fantasy of Flight, gave some details about the two shining
The two P-51’s have the Rolls Royce Merlin/Packard engines
which provided the P-51s with superior high altitude performance
over the original Allison engine. The P-51C (pictured above), was
purchased by Weeks in a racing configuration. Weeks had it restored
back to its military configuration. The paint scheme of the red
tail colors was
done to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black Americans to fly
combat in World War II. Tuskegee pilots stood out for being the
only fighter escort group to have never lost a bomber to enemy
Since rides in the P-51 were just a Fantasy, the Mustang
enthusiasts filled their need for flight by buying a run around the
patch in a Standard D-25 1929 bi-plane. There is also a 1942 Boeing
Stearman PT-17 and a hot air balloon available for flights.
No matter how many horses you have under your hood or cowling,
you’re welcome at Fantasy of Flight.