Up, up and away! That was the sensation as our 1940 Stearman biplane climbed off the runway in Palm Springs for a half hour flightseeing tour. The biplane is very much an open-air experience. With goggles on and plenty of opportunity to catch bugs in your teeth the scenic flight around the desert valley is a fun way to spend a half hour or so (tours up to one hour are available; we chose the 30-minute version).
The plane flies relatively low and slow which is great as a passenger for enjoying the experience. It is also a relatively tiny aircraft so it can manage incredibly tight turns. Flying up towards the mountains west of town our pilot had some fun banking the corners and bouncing through the thermals.
And getting up off the ground at Palm Springs, with its many golf courses and well-manicured gardens is a great reminder that the city is, in fact, built in the middle of the desert. From a thousand feet up it is clear just how much of nothing there is as you look past the housing developments and resorts.
And so, after tooling around for a while in the skies over Palm Springs it was time to return to the airport. A couple puffs of smoke for fun and then a nice dip to line up for the landing on runway 31R and finish the ride. Definitely a fun AvGeek way to spend some time once you tire of sitting by the pool all day. Incidentally, it was watching the plane fly overhead a few times while I was sitting poolside that convinced me to book the tour, so I suppose that marketing effort worked pretty well.
The flight experience is a casual one. We booked with a quick phone call and then showed up at the FBO and walked right out to the plane. After putting on our hat and goggles it was straight out to the runway and into the sky.
Rides range from $200-500 for 15-60 minutes of flying. The 30 minute tour at $300 fit our budget pretty well. Also, it is a tight squeeze for two in the plane so make sure you are ready to be cozy with your travel buddy.
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