You might think that a two week holiday in Orlando, Florida is an unlikely scenario for discovering military history. But, as with so many other holiday destinations, there are rich pickings to be found with a little bit of imagination. It just takes a little research to find something to see and then find a way of dovetailing the excursion into an itinerary designed for family pleasures. The family had discerned that we would be visiting the Epcot Centre in Orlando but probably hadn't anticipated that I would be flying over this attraction in a 1943 T-6 trainer whilst they waited in a hanger for me to return!
|Epcot, Orlando from the Air|
Actually, we all had a fabulous time visiting the sites around Orlando. My guilty secret though is that the highlights included flying the T-6 and taking the controls for two 'loop the loops' in the clear blue Floridian sky. The T-6 was used as a trainer in WWII and is probably the nearest I will get to flying a Spitfire. And it was a fantastic experience.
|The Author at the controls of a North American T-6|
The old Kissimmee airfield is home to a few other fabulous vintage aircraft. For example the Mustang P-51 shown below. It is possible to fly the Mustang but the price was a little rich for me.
|Mustang P51 ready for take off at Kissimmee|
In the main hanger there is a WWII Focke Wulf FW190 undergoing restoration. The example in question was recovered from Norway where it was shot down on the 9th Feb 1945. A local group of enthusiasts intend to get it flying again. The sourcing of parts is proving to be a challenge but the team are confident that they will complete the project.
This half day out was a thrill and made a superb family holiday in Orlando just that little bit more special.