TODAY IS THE END OF AN ERA!
The last truckload of all my aircraft parts arrived from Miami, ending over a decade and a half of trucking to Fantasy of Flight. Fantasy of Flight restorer and mechanic Paul Stecewycz was in charge of the effort and hauled most of the almost 200 truckloads. In January, I flew the Grumman TBM Avenger up, which was that last flyable aircraft we had left in Miami at what was the old Weeks Air Museum facility at the Tamiami Airport. One or two other loads were brought up recently leaving only the wing of my Kawasaki Ki-46 Hein Japanese fighter.
I originally purchased the Fantasy of Flight property in 1987 and after four years of permitting and dealing with 17 regulatory agencies I finally got the permits to build Fantasy of Flight four months after Hurricane Andrew devastated my Miami facility on August 24th, 1992. Within a year I moved to Central Florida to focus on the project. The first building completed was the storage building on site where we now offer daily tours. I eventually sold my house and warehouses and now the only thing I have left in Miami is my mother!
Paul insisted on making the last load, and rightly so, for he said it would be somewhat of a “spiritual experience” for him as it closed the door on a very long project. Paul was responsible for inventorying many boxes of parts brought up that now reside either as airplanes on display or pallet racks of parts stored to the ceilings in two buildings totaling 44,000 square feet.
It was somewhat of a surprise when he rounded the corner of the building for “a photo shot for my blog.” What he didn’t realize was that he was met with a banner, many of the Fantasy of Flight staff, champagne, and cake. After a quick speech and a toast, I presented Paul with a trophy thanking him for all his hard work and effort. We will display the banner in the restoration facility as a reminder of a past gone by!