The aviation enthusiast began restoring and preserving antique aircraft in the 1970s and today owns more than 140 civilian and military planes which he has been displaying for the enjoyment of the public at his Polk City attraction, Fantasy of Flight, since 1995. The attraction is the only one in the world that offers daily aerial demonstrations featuring rare, vintage aircraft. It also features daily tours of the restoration shops where craftsmen work to restore and rebuild aircraft to flyable condition.
Also inducted this year were Zack Mosely, deceased, who flew hundreds of missions for the Civil Air Patrol during World War II and created the nationally syndicated aviation feature "Smilin' Jack," as well as Ed Hoffman, designer and builder of all-wood airplanes. Past inductees have included Paul Tibbetts, pilot of the Enola Gay; Bob White, the first pilot to fly Mach 4, 5 and 6; and John Paul Riddle, founder of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
"I am absolutely humbled to be counted among the great men and great pilots who have been inducted into the Florida Aviation Hall of Fame," said Weeks. "I feel incredibly fortunate to be honored for simply doing what I love."
Anyone may make nominations for the Aviation Hall of Fame but inductees are chosen by the 500 members of the Florida Aviation Historical Society. Three inductees are selected each year.
"This is our way of recognizing leadership and accomplishments in the field of aviation," said Neil Cosentino, spokesman for the Society.
Fantasy of Flight is an aviation-themed attraction showcasing vintage aircraft from the world's largest private collection; themed immersion experiences; flight simulators; interactive exhibits; a tram tour of aircraft maintenance areas; Restoration and Backlot tours; and an Aerial Demonstration of the Day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and general admission is $28.95. Audio tours, hot air balloon rides and biplane rides also are available. The Art Deco-styled Compass Rose Diner serves lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Recent additions to Fantasy of Flight attractions include the Fun with Flight Center for families; The Tuskegee Airmen - They Dared to Fly exhibit; and a multimedia tribute to the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) - A Passionate Pursuit. For more information about Fantasy of Flight, call 1-863-984-3500 or visit http://www.fantasyofflight.com/.
- Tampa Bay Informer
The Good News Newspaper