POLK CITY, FL -- As demonstrated by Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III, pilot of the US Airways Flight 1549 that made the landing in the Hudson River earlier this year, great pilots don't always need runways! While Sullenberger proved that the water can provide an emergency landing strip for commercial airlines, there are also many accomplished pilots who simply prefer water landings.
Those looking to learn more about water take-offs and landings and spring fun seekers in search of something different and inspirational are in luck. Back by popular demand for the second year in a row, Fantasy of Flight in Polk City will be hosting the annual "Splash-In" as part of the 35th Annual Sun 'n Fun "Fly-In" event themed a "Spring Break for Pilots," held from April 21-26.
Fantasy of Flight's Lake Agnes will serve as the chosen landing strip for the hundreds of seaplane pilots attending this year's event on April 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm. This "fly-in within a fly-in" will include the amazing spectacle of water take-offs and landings as well as competition flying, water-bombing, and spot landing.
"Mastery of the wild blue yonder of both the sky and the sea is something that inspires the dreamer in us all," says Kermit Weeks, founder and creator of Fantasy of Flight. "This event will give guests a chance to see firsthand pilots and planes taming both."
The event is part of the annual Sun 'n Fun "Fly-In," an aviation convention started in 1975. In 2008, the "Splash-In" portion of the wildly popular Lakeland Linder Regional Airport event was moved to Fantasy of Flight to utilize the state-of-the-art facilities and wide-open spaces of the Polk City landmark attraction. Pilots of 87 planes arrived on event day alone as guests enjoyed the amazing sights and sounds as crafts of all kinds descended upon the lake waters or took to the sky.
Seaplanes and amphibious aircraft come in many shapes and sizes. Seaplanes are most easily categorized as airplanes capable of taking off from or landing on the surface of water. They include flying boats and float planes. Seaplanes with retractable wheels allowing land and/or water operation are known as an amphibian. Fantasy of Flight is home to such water-based aircraft as the Grumman Duck, a PBY Catalina, and the only airworthy Short Sunderland MK5 in the world.
Guests at Fantasy of Flight will be able to watch as pilots of both amphibious aircraft and seaplanes land on Lake Agnes and participate in exciting events that range from a "bomb drop" contest to slaloms with floatplanes and flying boats. Those who wish to enjoy the excitement a little longer can also purchase tickets to attend a banquet held in the Fantasy of Flight hangar where hundreds of guests will dine amidst the attraction's aircraft collection.