Making History at Fantasy of Flight

Noted World War I expert Jack Tunstall describes the beginnings of modern air warfare in his role as Scholar-in-Residence.


USF History Professor Graydon “Jack” Tunstall, a renowned expert on World War I, described the role early aircraft played in their first large-scale use in battle.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (May 1, 2013) – In addition to all kinds of aircraft at Fantasy of Flight and a visual landmark drivers can’t miss along Interstate 4, a University of South Florida History Professor Graydon “Jack” Tunstall will be on hand to provide colorful background information on special occasions.

Tunstall, Fantasy of Flight’s first-ever Scholar-in-Residence, did just that on April 6 during a full day of activities as part of “Legends & Legacies: A Symposium Series.”

A noted expert on World War I, the author of classic works on that era, Tunstall held forth on the role airplanes played in their first large-scale use in battle before large crowds and in questions and answer sessions. 

“So many of the advancements in aircraft design are owed to those who fought and lost their lives during World War I,” he said. “The fighters, bombers and ground-attack planes we know today can trace important details back to those pilots.”

Tunstall related the fascinating stories of how the ability to shoot at other planes and drop bombs developed from their most rudimentary beginnings during the National Conference on World War I Aircraft that was held April 6. Attendees also had the opportunity to see Fantasy of Flight owner Kermit Weeks fly vintage German planes, an Albatross, a Fokker Tri-plane and a Snipe.

“Those planes are so old, I wasn’t sure he’d be able to land them safely, but he did, in good form,” Tunstall said.

Fantasy of Flight, which bills itself as “the world’s greatest aviation attraction,” has the largest collection of vintage aircraft flying today, some dating from the early 1900s, including World War II standouts like the rare P-51C Mustang featuring red tail colors of the Tuskegee Airmen and the B-26 Marauder, which saw combat in the South Pacific and over North Africa. Themed sight- and sound-immersion experiences showcase memorable moments in aviation history. Admission to Fantasy of Flight covers lectures like Tunstall’s.


“We continually seek ways to grow our Legends & Legacies Symposium Series, so we were thrilled to discover that one of the nation’s, if not the world’s, foremost experts on World War I, Dr. Graydon A. Tunstall, was willing to come and share his incredible insights and years of research and writing with our guests,” said Kim Long, general manager of Fantasy of Flight. “This was a truly unique opportunity to learn what it was really like for the pilots and soldiers engaged in battles in the air and on the ground, and to learn how a war fought nearly a century ago on foreign soil still impacts our military today.”

The author of “Planning for War against Russian and Serbia, Austro-Hungarian and German Military Strategies, 1871-1914” and “Blood on the Snow: The Carpathian Winter War of 1915,” Tunstall was part of a symposium presented April 12 at Park University in Kansas City, Missouri  on “The Great War on the Eastern Front: Three Perspectives,” sponsored by the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.

For more information about upcoming Legends & Legacies events, click here or visit

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.