POLK CITY, Fla. (April 4, 2011) - On April 15 and 16, visitors to Fantasy of Flight will have the opportunity to hear from a direct descendant of one of history's most famous aviators and war heroes, General Jimmy Doolittle of the renowned "Doolittle Raiders." The presentation is just one installment of the attraction's newly expanded "Legends & Legacies Symposium Series." Doolittle's granddaughter, Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, author of "Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle," a memoir about her extraordinary grandfather, and "Just Doing My Job," a collection of 19 narratives from WWII, is the headline speaker for the event.
Throughout the weekend, Hoppes will share personal photographs and anecdotes of her "Gramps" wartime experiences as well as his life at home, with a focus on the perspective of her grandmother, Josephine, or "Joe" Doolittle.
One of the only attractions in the country to bring together legendary World War II heroes to share their firsthand accounts, Fantasy of Flight is proud to present this newly expanded symposium series which invites WWII aviation heroes and their families to offer a glimpse of what it was like to fly in the heyday of aviation as they protected their country. The series also includes heroes from WWII who served on the ground protecting and supporting the men and women in flight. Each symposium features several open-forum/question-and-answer sessions, followed by meet-and-greet/autograph signing sessions.
"Fantasy of Flight is thrilled to bring history to life by providing our guests the opportunity to meet, interact with and learn from great American heroes and their families," said Kim Long, General Manager of Fantasy of Flight. "To hear personal anecdotes of aviation and wartime legends we've only read about in history books is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and we hope everyone will take advantage of this incredible weekend presentation."
Hoppes' grandfather, General Jimmy Doolittle, was an aviation pioneer and WWII hero who led the famous Doolittle Raid for which he earned the Medal of Honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Doolittle Raid took place April 18, 1942 and was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese homeland, providing a vital moral boost for the U.S. after Pearl Harbor. Hollywood has portrayed Doolittle many times - perhaps most notably by Alec Baldwin in the 2001 blockbuster, Pearl Harbor.
In her book, Hoppes relays personal stories about her grandfather from the war, gathered by letters and testimonies of the soldiers who served with him and for him; letters he wrote to his wife, Joe, during the war; hours of interviews with her father, John P. Doolittle; magazine articles from the era, saved by her grandmother; as well as her own memories of "Gramps." She recalls spending time at her grandparents' home, studying a wall of autographed photos that lined their hallway-photos of people in aviation, members of the Doolittle Raiders, celebrities, industry and world leaders. "You had to ask him to find out the things that he did. I was always the kid who always wanted to know, 'Who was this? What did they do?' so I heard a lot of stories from him."
In her presentation about her grandfather, Hoppes hopes to reveal "the kind of man he was as a Commander." In one letter she received while writing her book, a veteran recalled his experience as a young enlisted man standing in line to wash his mess kit in a barrel in Okinawa. When he turned to hand the scrub brush to the soldier waiting in line behind him, he discovered it was General Doolittle. "Here's a guy with three stars on his shoulder, waiting his turn to do what everyone else did," Hoppes summarized. "That was the epitome of who he was. He commanded by example, not by giving orders but by being a part of the troops themselves."
Jonna's book "Calculated Risk: The Extraordinary Life of Jimmy Doolittle-Aviation Pioneer and World War II Hero" will be available for sale at the Fantasy of Flight gift shop and may be autographed by the author during her visit April 15-16. Hoppes is currently working on two additional books, the story of the Eighth Air Force, the men who flew for her grandfather and "Just Doing My Job, Too."
Hoppes works for the Department of Defense at Los Angeles Air Force Base and travels throughout the United States and Europe representing the Doolittle family. She has appeared on numerous television programs including the History Channel's Man, Moment, Machine and a special documentary on Jake DeShazer. Her articles have appeared in Smithsonian's Air and Space magazine and other publications. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, Idaho and currently resides in Newport Beach, California.
The "Legends & Legacies Symposium Series" features six topics scheduled for 2011, with remaining symposiums to include "D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy," May 13-14; "The Pacific War: Power and Pursuit," June 10-11; and "The Great Escape: Heroes Underground," Oct. 14-15. All symposiums are included with daily general admission and are free for all Annual Pass holders. Call 863-984-3500 or go to www.fantasyofflight.com for more information. Also on the calendar for 2011 is April 2; "The Blue Max Scale R/C Challenge and Fly-In," April 15, 16 and 17; and 5th Annual Roar n' Soar, November 12-13.
Fantasy of Flight general admission is $28.95 plus tax for adults, $14.95 plus tax for youth (age 6-15) and five and under are free with full paying adult. Group rates are available. For more information, visit www.fantasyofflight.com.