Fantasy of Flight creator and founder Kermit Weeks was recently honored by the World Acrobatics Society as one of its 2010 Gallery of Legends inductees in the Extreme Sports category.
Weeks was tapped for this honor for performance in specialty aerobatic airplanes.
Every year WAS selects a GOL recipient in each of seven categories: acrobatics gymnastics, artistic gymnastics, contributors, diving, extreme sports, professional performers and trampoline/tumbling. Weeks’ 20-year stint in competitive aerobatics that brought him world acclaim also caught the attention of the WAS board when choosing the honoree for the Extreme category.
While the award was for his aerobatic accomplishments in the sky, Weeks was accepted into this prestigious group of acrobats because of his gymnastic background — he competed on his high school’s gymnastics team — and is the first person in the aeronautics field to even be considered, according to the WAS.
“What a honor it has been to be included with this great group of Legends! While I never felt I had the talent to go on to win medals in Olympic Gymnastics, it was my early exposure to the sport that laid a solid foundation for me to go on to compete and win medals flying airplanes in World Aerobatic Championships,” said Week.
Weeks’ love for airplanes started at a very young age when he constructed a makeshift plane using a toy wagon for landing gear. By age 16 he bought a set of plans and had nearly completed his first flyable airplane when he was only 17 years old. He soon earned his pilot’s license and began competing in aerobatics. Over the next few years he tried to juggle gymnastics, college courses and aerobatics, but knew he would eventually have to let something go.
“I enjoyed gymnastics but when I realized I wasn’t going to the Olympics anytime soon, I switched direction and focused my gymnastics to the air,” commented Weeks who also decided to leave Purdue University’s aeronautical engineering program to secure a spot on the U.S. Aerobatic Team which launched him into the world competition arena. Weeks’ 1978 World Aerobatic Championships debut was impressive when he brought home three silver medals, a bronze medal and an overall ranking of second in the world.
“I designed and built another airplane with a bigger engine and in those two aircraft I won 20 medals at the world level and was a two-time U.S. National Champion,” said Weeks.
Over the course of six World Aerobatic Championships, he won 20 medals in airplanes he designed and built himself.
Looking back, the transition from gymnasium to cockpit was a virtually seamless one for Weeks who proved he could effortlessly execute flips and turns on ground or sky.
“If there is one thing I’ve learned from gymnastics, aerobatics, and life, it’s that each and every one of us, at any point on our journey, has an opportunity to take a step beyond what we perceive ourselves to be,” said Weeks, “and achieve things we never though possible.”
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