Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Central Florida Air Museums

While working on the latest Flying Tigers post the other day, it suddenly dawned on me that we have some big air museums here in Central Florida. Being more of a railroad and armor guy, knowing very little about aviation, I've never been to any of these museums. I'm hoping to change that this year and visit them, weather and time permitting. Of course, if any of you guys have been to any of these or want to give your input, please drop me a line in the comment section below.

Kissimmee Air Museum (Kissimmee, FL)
Click here to visit each museum's website.
Probably the smallest of the museums is the Kissimmee Air Museum. From their website: "We share Florida’s rich aviation heritage through aircraft displays, educational exhibits, aircraft restoration and exciting training flights in WWII fighter-trainers. Visitors experience aviation first hand as they interact with the planes, pilots and projects; taking a front row seat to an aviation adventure at the Kissimmee airport in the heart of Florida. Guests can experience an authentic WWII fighter-trainer from the front cockpit. Not a simulator but a real WWII airplane with you at the controls!" Admission is only $7 per person, which is cheap enough. Right now, this one is farther down my "to do" list because it's so small.

I got these photos online to show what the museums look like.

Fantasy of Flight (Lakeland, FL)
This is one of the larger museums in the area and seems a bit like a theme park, with an admission of $29 a person. The blurb from their website: "Our stunning Art Deco facility is home to over 40 rare and vintage aircraft, many of which have been restored to flyable condition. But that is just the beginning. We offer a variety of guided tours including visits to our working restoration and maintenance areas. You can take a spin on a state-of-the-art hang glide simulator in our interactive Fun with Flight center for families and climb on board a real B-17 Flying Fortress in a WWII bombing mission." We've past by this a number of times on the way to Lakeland and Tampa, but my wife has never been too interested in it. The price tends to put her off, especially since she has no interest in planes. I think this will be for our second museum visit when she's more used to the museum experience.

Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum (Titusville, FL)
They really need a better website!
This museum strikes me as one of those more down to earth places (pardon the pun!) run by a dedicated group of individuals who care about our heritage instead of making a buck. Their admission is $18 per person. They do an amazing air show every year. Unfortunately, that was last month. (March seems to be a busy month here for historical events!) I think this is the one I'm leaning toward visiting first because my wife loves to go to the beach but rarely gets over there. So we'll be able to take care of lot of interests in one trip. When the wife is happy, everyone is happy. Right? You know I'm right. :-)

Again, the blurb from their homepage: "The Valiant Air Command is a non-profit museum. Presently the Museum has 10 acres of property at the Space Center Executive Airport in Titusville, Florida. The museum displays, maintains and restores all types of aircraft that were indigenous to the world's military Air Forces starting before WW1 to the present. The Main Bay/Display Area contains approximately 30,000 square feet and is wide and high enough to accommodate the wing span and tail assembly of all but the largest bombers. In addition to the main hangar bay, there is an area 15,000 square feet dedicated to the display of memorabilia associated with the 'Valiant' individuals who flew, maintained these aircraft."

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