By: Thomas Fletcher, CFP®
My son has always had an interest in all things aeronautical. Also, I am a softy. So on our Cape Cod vacation a few weeks ago it wasn’t a huge surprise I relented to my son’s endless requests for both of us to take an airplane tour of the Cape.
At the Chatham Municipal Airport where they offer these flights, they come in two varieties: a traditional closed cabin Cessna and an open cockpit bi-plane. My son wanted nothing to do with the former, so once again I acquiesced and went with the bi-plane option.
When we arrived at the airport, I wasn’t sure what to expect in regards to the machine. It turns out the plane was built in the 1980s and is a replica of a 1930s open cockpit bi-plane. I don’t know much about plane construction, but I found it interesting the wings and fuselage were covered in fabric, and we were repeatedly warned not to step directly on the wing when boarding or deplaning. Another interesting tidbit is that the pilot sits behind the two passengers in his own separate cockpit. The thought occurred to me more than once; how the heck can he see?
Once they stuffed us into our seats, belted us in, read us the instructions about what to do and not touch (which included just about everything), we took off. Also, I checked, and there didn’t seem to be any parachutes under the seats. Despite wearing noise-canceling headsets that allowed us to communicate with each other, I was surprised by
how loud the plane was. And because we sat directly behind the engine, it was pretty hot. Those were the only two negatives, however. We had a beautiful, sunny late afternoon for flying and as you can imagine, the views were incredible. At one point the pilot asked where we were staying, located our house, and circled it a few times at about 1000 feet. The neighbors must have been thrilled (not!).
If you’re a white knuckle flyer or afraid of heights, this tour might not be in your best interest. Otherwise, I’d highly recommend this as one of those things to add to your bucket list.