It’s noisy up here, but through our helmets, we can hear the chatter of firstly the Caloundra Air Controller and later the Sunshine Coast Control. The plane rises and falls gently as the wind catches her and moves her – and us – about. It’s as if we’re riding the swell of the wind.
Below us, the ocean sparkles in the sunlight. We look for whales but can see none.
We’re flying in a Waco open cockpit biplane – and the experience is about as far from an economy seat on a Jetstar flight as it’s possible to get. It’s flying with the wind in your hair, flying when it was really special, flying with more than a touch of 1930s glamour. It’s flying with the birds.
This “bird” is beautiful – sleek and smooth. Rodney, our pilot, tells us that she’s affectionately named Marilyn – a blonde, curvy American. The seats are upholstered leather – like an armchair – and it’s much warmer and more comfortable than I thought it would be.
Before we took off Rodney pointed out the different indicators and the pedals on the floor – which we were told not to touch. He also showed us where the compartment was for the breakfast carrier, or sick bags, in case we needed them – which we didn’t. The original use for these would have been to carry a businessman’s lunch or flask, I suppose.
This joyflight was a combined birthday present for Miss 19 and I. We chose the Caloundra Classic to Mooloolaba flight – a route that took us along the beaches of Caloundra, up the coast and over the Mooloolaba Spit, and turning around at the Maroochy River mouth before heading back.
Although we didn’t choose the aerobatics package, along the way Rodney tossed in a couple of sharp turns and “wingovers” which were enough to get our hearts raising.
Take off and landing (an old fashioned grass landing) was smooth, and the flight itself fabulous – the coast really is even more beautiful from up high.
A nostalgic trip back to a time when flying was romantic – and a flight to remember. From up here we got great views of the Glasshouse Mountains, Bribie Island and the Pumicestone Passage, and, of course, the fabulous Sunshine Coast through to Maroochydore.
Flights are available from $298 – and the best part is that 2 of you can go up for that price.
What about the knees?
I was worried about getting in and out of the seat – and of stepping on the wrong part of the wing and causing damage. I needn’t have been concerned. Even with my dodgy back and knees, it was all ok – and they use a step ladder to climb up and in.
Yeah, it’s a tad squishy, but if you’ve flown Jetstar lately… Seriously though, I wouldn’t want to fly for hours like this, but it’s surprising how much legroom you have. I, however, needed a booster cushion to be able to see out.
Did we feel safe?
You can find more information here. Fighter Pilot Jet Flights run biplane scenic flights from Caloundra Airport and Brisbane.