An open air cockpit biplane ride over the country’s oldest city is not something that instantly jumps to mind when thinking of kitschy Florida attractions. So when Cori spotted an ad in one of those coupon books that can be found in every restaurant foyer, we were sold. One call to St. Augustine Biplane Rides was all it took to get us ready for an unforgettable flight. After zipping over crocodiles and alligators earlier in the morning, this relaxing ride what just what we needed.
We opted for the thirty minute Old City Tour which would fly us over the Castillo de San Marcos, Bridge of Lions, Anastasia Island, and the beach.
Dave, our pilot, met us at our car and drove us in a golf court to the hangar. He gave us some history of the plane explaining that even though it was a 1935 model, it had been rebuilt in 2011. Demonstrating how to enter and exit the plane, Dave allowed us to get in, but not before we each donned a flying cap and headsets. Instead of goggles, we opted to keep our aviators as eye protection.
He showed us how the instruments would work at our feet and what to avoid in the cockpit. He also warned us about leaning out the window too far into the wind where our phones and cameras could easily be whipped out of our hands never to be seen again.
Then it was time to go. Within minutes we were cruising down the runway and lifting up into the air. The warm air vanished as the wind whipped around us. Dave deftly lifted the plane higher and higher above Vilano Beach where we spotted our hotel along the coastline.
Selfie snapping ensued as both Cori and I squealed with excitement while we viewed St. Augustine from a bird’s perspective. We felt like Snoopy as the plane floated over the fort, and our pilot angled us from side to side so both of us had a beautiful view of the star shaped structure.
Then it started to sprinkle. Just a quick little rainstorm that barely got us wet. However it was enough rain to produce a beautiful rainbow that we had the pleasure of flying under. It was surreal and a gentle reminder that turned my mind from carefree to remembering the tragic shooting in Orlando the day before. In many ways that rainbow reminded me that life is short, and as cliched as it sounds, I was happy we had decided to seize the day.
From downtown it was on toward Anastasia Island, the lighthouse, and the Salt Run. All of which we had already viewed from ground. Seeing it from above dwarfed the tall lighthouse and made the Salt Run feel much longer than two miles. We could even see people running on the beach.
Thirty minutes literally flew by as we each glued our eyes out each side of the plane. We were in silent amazement despite the loud engine and wind roaring around us. It seemed too soon, but our wheels touched down and we rolled back to the hanger with huge smiles on our faces. This biplane ride had been a bucket list item that we didn’t even know we had.
For a different perspective of St. Augustine, you cannot go wrong with Dave and his biplane.