Tired of giving the same old gifts? The folks at Biplane, Air Combat & Warbird Adventures in San Diego have just the ticket.
Choose from a gentle or thrilling open cockpit biplane ride, pulse pounding air combat, inspirational “first flight” or hands-on-the-controls loops and rolls in a World War II warbird. Flight packages start at $104.50 per person.
There’s nothing that compares to flying in an open cockpit biplane, says Kate Lister, president of Biplane, Air Combat & Warbird Adventures. Two passengers sit side by side in the front cockpit of a Travel Air 4000 while the pilot flies from “coach.” Rides start at $104.50 a person for a 20-minute flight along the coast.
The longest biplane ride is the Sunset Snuggler, an hour-long tour of the coast at dusk followed by several sunsets as the aircraft climbs higher and the sun drops over the horizon. You can add the Great Gatsby Fly/Dine option and enjoy a three-course dinner at five-star Vivace restaurant after your flight.
Is there a golfer on your list? If so the Dapper Duffer Aerial Golf Tour is sure to be a hole in one. Putter over Torrey Pines, Aviara, and La Costa in a vintage open cockpit biplane for a birdie’s eye view of the area’s most famous golf courses.
Custom routes are also available for golfers who want to improve their handicaps with aerial views of their favorite courses.
If all that sounds too tame, there’s always Top Dog Air Combat. The passenger actually takes the controls of a real airplane in mock aerial combat. Under the watchful eye of one of the company’s pilots, passengers do most of the flying. Everything’s real but the bullets. No pilot’s license required, just guts, Lister says. Dogfights start at $298 per person.
Want to inspire a young mind, or reinspire an experienced one? Send them out on a Cadet “First Flight.” After a preflight briefing during which they will discuss the basics of what makes an airplane fly, they’ll climb aboard a Varga VG-21 (the same aircraft used for the Top Dog Air Combat flights) for a brief cockpit orientation, and then take to the skies. No previous experience is necessary, but they’ll do much of the flying under the watchful eye of an experienced pilot. They’ll learn how to maneuver through turns, climbs, and glides, and fly the aircraft back to the airport. “First Flights” start at $167 per person.
For the person who’s done everything, the company offers the opportunity to take the controls and fly a 1941 World War II warbird. Built by North American Aviation (the same company that built the famous P-51 Mustang), the SNJ-4, also known as the AT-6 Texan, was a favorite of World War II pilots. A greenhouse canopy, tandem seating, dual-stick controls, four point harnesses, parachutes, two 50-caliber machine guns, and tailhook for carrier landings add to the thrill of flying this plane. Warbird flights start at $435.
Flights are flown from Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, Calif., just 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. Flights are available seven days a week, year round. Reservations are required.
For more information: 800-759-5667.