Many people ask me what it is like to fly in an open cockpit biplane. “Well”, I tell them, “The ‘Biplane’ is the most magical experience I have had in any aircraft yet!” Of course they don’t believe me until they go flying, and they ALWAY tell me that they had no idea it was going to be such a marvelous experience.
Leather or canvas helmets are a MUST, not just for the vintage look. In the open cockpit biplane, you don’t have the canopy to protect you from the elements. Instead, you will have more wind and noise versus a normal aircraft but the trade off for the view is worth it. At Sky Tours, we have an assortment of different sized helmets and washable liners for you to fly in comfortably. Your helmet connects with the aviation headset and microphone that lets you talk to the pilot and hear Air Traffic Control transmissions.
To talk during our Biplane Rides, you keep the boom microphone near your lips, push the button on the ‘stick’ and talk freely to your pilot. In our biplane aircraft, we have 2 communication systems; the intercom and the VHF radio. The intercom is a closed system where the pilot and passenger can talk freely to each other. The pilot will talk about all the landmarks and beaches your are flying over. The words you speak stay in the cockpit. The VHF radio, Very High Frequency radio, is used by the pilot flying to communicate with Air Traffic Control. As a passenger you don’t have to worry about messing up the pilots communication; so ask tons of questions!
The 60-70F winter in San Diego means that you wear a sweatshirt or light jacket in the cockpit, while the summers are good with just a t-shirt. Our Biplanes have a heater for the passengers to make it just so so cozy. At our Aerial Tour altitudes the temperatures are about the same as on the ground. Our aviator knowledge tells us we may lose about 2 degrees Celsius of temperature for every 1000ft of altitude climbed. Most days you can noticeably feel the temperature/humidity change as you approach about 2 miles from the beach.
Goggles were worn by many of the pilots during the ‘golden age of aviation’. Sunglasses work best for our tours, because the old goggles look cool, but provide poor visibility. However, you will see me wearing the goggles on my forehead because I like the look! Back in the old days, when the engines were round, they would constantly spit oil into the pilots face. The scarfs were used to help protect the pilots neck and wipe away that oil so they could see. If our engines leak that much oil we are taking it to the mechanic!