Orlampa, FL, USA - January 2014

It's apparent that Fantasy of Flight is not like museums, where airplanes are slowly being restored by volunteers and left partially assembled on the hangar floor. All work is done by professional A&P mechanics - usually off site. There are, of course, exceptions. (Trevor McTavish)

In order to do the woodworking on some of the airplanes there is a fully stocked wood shop. The metal shop is in another building. (Trevor McTavish)

Front and centre in the metal shop was Mr. Weeks' Republic P-35, which looks absolutely gorgeous. Apparently it was one of a group originally sold to Sweden, eventually coming to Mr. Weeks through a trade with the USAF Museum for a Grumman Duck. (Trevor McTavish)

Among the many items on the P-35s' restoration checklist was a complete replacement of all the aluminum skins. The tour guide also pointed out that while all the wiring will be replaced with modern materials, Mr. Weeks ordered a special run where the new wires were printed to look exactly like the fabric-wrapped wires of the 1930s. How's that for attention to detail? (Trevor McTavish)

Another item the tour guide mentioned was that no propellers exist anywhere in the world for this particular engine and airframe combination. The most likely course of action will be to cut down a bigger propeller from, say, a Douglas DC-3. I've always said the airframe is the easy part of vintage airplanes. Finding the right engines, propellers, wheels and brakes, and countless other parts are where the real challenge lays. Take a look at the warehouse tour to see how Mr. Weeks has tackled this. (Trevor McTavish)

In addition to the P-35, there were other airplanes in the shop; Mr. Week's recently acquired Sikorsky S-43 amphibian, a Consolidated BT-13 wing, and the most recent project airplane, a Naval Aircraft Factory N3N biplane trainer. This one flew, I believe, in Guatamala, which is why it wears the remains of green camouflage. (Trevor McTavish)

The last airplane was a Benoist flying boat. This was an exact replica of the airplane to perform the first commercial passenger flight in the United States, right here in Florida. According to the tour guide, when they tried to reenact the flight the little flying boat wouldn't get off the water - even when it was being pulled by a motorboat. A flat bottom hull, 40hp engine, a thrustline pushing the nose into the water, and pilot and passengers weighing substancially more than they did a century ago didn't help. (Trevor McTavish)