To fund their flight experiments, Wilbur and Orville Wright charged neighborhood children three nickels and a jug of gasoline each to cling to the wings of their prototype aircraft during test flights. Soar through the air in safer fashion with today’s Groupon: for $87, you get a scenic 20-minute biplane ride for a single passenger from St. Augustine Air Tours, Inc. (a $175 value).
Helmed by an experienced aviator, St. Augustine Air Tours' Waco YMF biplane propels passengers over stunning coastline views. Seated in the Waco's open cockpit, up to two guests at a time can feel the rush of high-altitude wind and the tickle of cloud beards while snapping photos unhindered by the glare of glass barriers. Winding rivers, thick forest blankets, and beach and ocean sights stretch below the Waco, a historic design first built in 1935. St. Augustine's newly constructed, FAA-approved sky speeder was built to the exact specifications of the original Waco, allowing passengers to experience air travel from a time when in-flight films were silent.
Tour takers should call at least three days in advance to schedule a weekday flight and one week in advance to schedule a weekend date with St. Augustine Air Tours. For sky forays at sunset or on Charles Lindbergh's birthday, pilots recommend scheduling several weeks ahead of the preferred tour date. Though not always possible, daring guests may, in advance, request acrobatics such as loops and rolls during flights.
St. Augustine Air Tours, Inc.
Operating out of the Northeast Florida Regional Airport, staff pilots pay homage to the golden age of aviation with tours in one of the vessels from a fleet of historic aircraft. Pilots steer the FAA-approved 1930s Boeing Stearman or the 1935 Waco biplane, both of which hearken back to the days of Amelia Earhart, when hot dogs only cost two shoes. Aboard these vintage planes they fly along on various scenic flights such as the St. Augustine skyline trip, which offers views of the lighthouse, Castillo de San Marcos, the Bridge of Lions, and Flagler College. They also lead combination scenic tours and romantic sunset flights. For a special treat, discovery-flight passengers can actually steer the plane themselves or plan in advance for the pilot to perform aerial acrobatics such as barrel rolls and loops.