Kermit Weeks believes we are all born with a desire to rise above, to free ourselves from our earthly bounds and soar among the clouds. Flight is a common theme in mythology. In ancient times, stories about the sky represented knowledge, rebirth, and freedom. Weeks has been obsessed with flight, both literal and metaphorical, for most of his life. He owns one of the largest private collections of historic, flight-worthy aircraft in the world. He built his first flyable airplane when he was in high school. Out of boredom, he dropped out of college to design and build his second plane. He made the United States Aerobatic Team at age 24 and at 25 finished second in world competition. He would go on to win 20 medals and two national championships. As much as he loves flying, Weeks is enamored by the fantasy of flight just as much.
“The way I look at it is I’m not here to teach people about aviation or about aviation history or how an airplane flies,” he says. “I’m here to use aviation to teach people about themselves!”
In 1995 he opened Fantasy of Flight near Polk City, Florida where many of his vintage aircraft were on display. It was part museum, part restoration facility, and part test-flight area. There is currently limited public access on most weekends, because Weeks wants to take the facility to another level. He’s created a series of children’s books, written original music and has dabbled at a script for a feature film. What he ultimately hopes to create is a Disney-like theme park based on aviation.
“Whether you like airplanes or not, every one of us at some level relates to the metaphor of flight for what it truly symbolizes: something beyond ourselves,” he explains. “We can all relate to the concept of reaching for the sky and reaching for the stars, but we can also do it from within. We soar in our imagination, and we fly in our dreams.”
Weeks does not have a timetable for this most ambitious project, but he does have a dream to see it through.
“What I hope to do is to create the next industry,” says Weeks. “On the surface it may look like an existing theme park with a great story, technology and rides, but the difference is everything we’re going to create here will be based on things that are real and that have a direct bearing on what we all experience on this journey through life.”
Weeks hopes to use our fascination with flying as a way of triggering our passion, to reignite the spark of curiosity, creativity and adventure in us all. At the age of 69 he admits he can hear the clock ticking, but believes it is never too late to reach for the stars and try to turn our dreams into reality.
“We are never too old to take a step beyond ourselves,” he said. “Your age or physical condition don’t matter, because this is the key; your perception of reality can be transcended by your belief system. You don’t have to climb Mount Everest or ride a rocket into space. All that matters is that you take a step beyond what you perceive yourself to believe. That’s what truly taking flight is all about.”
This article is featured in the December 2022 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.