POLK CITY, Fla. (August 11, 2009) – For the first time ever in Central Florida, seaplanes and extreme skydiving will come together in one action-packed event called "The Last Big Splash" at Fantasy of Flight. "The Last Big Splash" is the last seaplane fly-in and competition to be held this year at Fantasy of Flight and the only place in Central Florida where spectators can currently witness the newest form of skydiving currently sweeping the extreme sports world, called "swooping."
On Sat., Sept. 26 and Sun., Sept. 27, spectators are invited to "ooh" and "aah" as seaplane pilots from around the world, in conjunction with the Seaplane Pilots Association, converge on the shores of Fantasy of Flight’s scenic Lake Agnes to participate in a variety of breathtaking aerial and water competitions and demonstrations. Fantasy of Flight expects close to 100 of all types of seaplanes to attend.
Meanwhile, extreme sport parachutists, also called canopy pilots, will be "swooping" down from approximately 5,000 feet to provide even more adrenaline-pumping, heart-stopping action for Fantasy of Flight guests. The professional parachutists, participating in an off-shoot of traditional skydiving, will compete for ranking in a Florida Canopy Pilots Association (FLCPA) sanctioned skydiving competition, using the large ponds lining Fantasy of Flight’s grass runways as a landing zone as they "swoop" down from the sky at extreme speeds and skid to a stop across the water.
"Swooping" is just one form of canopy piloting and one of the fastest growing activities within the sport of skydiving. It is also one of the few skydiving events that is spectator-friendly. In this extreme sport, the canopy pilot deploys the parachute, or canopy, at 5,000 feet, piloting it to a designated point over the swoop course, and then turns the chute into a rotating dive to dramatically increase speed. The pilot recovers from the dive and levels out just before entering the course, regularly reaching speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour.
"This is by far, one of the most exciting, most unusual and most extreme sporting events accessible to spectators in Central Florida," said Kermit Weeks, founder and creator of Fantasy of Flight. "The only downside is the possibility of getting a sore neck from keeping an eye on the sky!"
Seaplanes are most easily categorized as airplanes capable of taking off from or landing on the surface of water, including 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.
Event pre-registration is now open and mandatory for seaplane pilots interested in competing or flying in The Last Big Splash, which will host water landings only. Registration includes the plane, pilot and one guest for two days as well as general admission for two to Fantasy of Flight. A special early bird registration rate of $35 for pilot/plane is available until Aug. 31 and increases to $45 Sept. 1 – 24. Registration closes at 5 pm, Sept. 24. Participation in the skydiving portion of The Last Big Splash is by invitation only. Access to the event for spectators is included with Fantasy of Flight general admission of $28.95 for adults, $26.95 for seniors ages 55 and over and $14.95 for children, ages 6-15, plus 7 percent sales tax. More details and registration forms are available online at www.fantasyofflight.com/last-big-splash.
With 250 acres of shorefront property on Lake Agnes, Fantasy of Flight is uniquely situated to host swooping and seaplane events and is quickly becoming a playground for extreme sport enthusiasts and athletic competitions such as triathlons and water ski competitions. This October the attraction will host the Paintball Sports Promotions (PSP) 2009 World Cup. For more information about Fantasy of Flight, call 863-984-3500 or visit www.fantasyofflight.com.
Fantasy of Flight is an aviation-themed attraction showcasing vintage aircraft from the world’s largest private collection; themed immersion experiences; flight simulators; interactive exhibits; a tram tour of aircraft maintenance areas; Restoration and Backlot tours; Fun with Flight center for families and an Aerial Demonstration of the Day (weather permitting). Recent additions to Fantasy of Flight attractions include The Tuskegee Airmen – They Dared to Fly exhibit; the multimedia tribute to the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) – A Passionate Pursuit and a walking audio tour.
Hours are 10 am – 5 pm daily. General admission is $28.95 for adults, $26.95 for seniors ages 55 and over and $14.95 for children, ages 6-15, plus 7 percent sales tax. Annual passes are available for $69.95 for adults, $39.95 for children ages 6-15, plus 7 per cent sales tax, and are good for one year from the date of purchase. Hot air balloon rides and biplane rides are available for an extra charge. For more information about Fantasy of Flight, call 863-984-3500 or visit www.fantasyofflight.com.