FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What exactly is a Stearman?
The Stearman was originally designed in 1934 and was used during WWII as a primary training biplane for the US Army and US Navy, among other countries. More than 10,000 were built by the Boeing Aircraft company in Wichita, KS, though now only about 1000 are still flying.. Top
What should I wear for the flight, is it going to be cold?
It is always a good idea to have a jacket handy, but it really depends on the season and the weather for the day. During the summer months a short sleeve shirt is very comfortable. Most other times it is best to wear a light jacket to be comfortable. Some may also prefer to wear some light gloves, especially when have your hands on the controls and not in your pockets for the flight! Comfortable shoes such as sneakers make climbing in and out much easier. Sorry, NO high heels and flip-flops are highly discouraged! Wearing sunglasses is helpful to protect your eyes from the wind as well as the sun. A helmet with earphones to wear during the flight will be provided so no additional headgear or hearing protection is required. Top
When should I arrive for my flight?
We need you at the airport no later than 15 minutes prior to your flight time. Many times flights are booked back to back and the schedule can be tight, so we appreciate you being on time. Top
Where do we go when we get to the airport?
Please follow the signs for "Private Flights" on Aviation Blvd, go through the roundabout (big yellow dot) and go in the main airport office door, you can’t miss it. Your pilot will meet you there and we usually park the Stearman right out front on the ramp area. Spectators can wait in the airport lounge area during the flight. Top
How many people can go up at a time?
Our aircraft seats the pilot/instructor in the back seat plus one passenger/student in the front seat. Sorry, you cannot place small children on your lap during a flight. You can book flights back-to-back however to better share the experience. Top
If the plane’s wings are made of wood and fabric, just how sturdy and safe is it?
One of the most frequent comments made about our airplane is about how solid she feels. The airplane was designed to take a serious beating by fledgling WWII cadets with no flying experience, but we treat her like an angel. She is very strong, with aluminum struts, steel tubing and flying-wires and braces… you’ll be amazed at just how stout and robust the airplane is! Top
Will I be able to talk to my pilot?
Yes, the airplane is equipped with an intercom and headphones so you can talk to your pilot/instructor throughout the entire lesson. Top
Where can we fly? Can we go see my house from the air?
Maybe. The airspace around Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is very congested, so we may not be given clearance to enter certain areas. We may be able to conduct our lesson over your house if time, airspace, and weather conditions permit. Top
What are aerobatics and what can I expect?
Aerobatics are the maneuvers that you might see an aircraft do at an airshow. They have also been described as tricks or stunts. One thing is for sure, they are fun! But we will not just take you up and start flipping you upside down. The maneuvers are done depending on each person’s input and desires. Your pilot will talk you through it. This is NOT an extreme aerobatic experience, this is designed to teach you the basic maneuvers included in WWII Primary Flight Training. Here are a few points worth noting:
• It is very smooth and graceful, not jerky like a roller coaster. We also only pull some gentle positive G's, which means you wont ever feel like you're being pushed out of the cockpit. This lesson teaches basic situational awareness and acclimation to unusual attitudes. We conduct all maneuvers above 3,000ft, which is double the FAA required minimum altitude, as our safety is always our top priority. We will both also wear a parachute as required by FAA regulations.
• The ample fresh air of the open cockpit keeps people from getting sick 99% of the time and most of the passengers who experience the loop or roll say it was better and more comfortable than they expected.
• While it is a great deal of fun, it is a somewhat physical experience, so we do not do 30 minutes of continuous aerobatics. We do a maneuver or two at a time and stop to talk about how you're feeling. We will never force you to do anything you're not ready for, we promise! Top
Should I eat before my flight?
Yes, please eat before you fly if you want to. We’ve found that a light meal before flying makes you much more comfortable and helps prevent motion sickness. Top
If the cockpit is open, with no canopy, can I fall out?
NO. We’ve never had a passenger fall out and we never will. You will be strapped securely into the comfortable front seat with a full set of lap belts and shoulder harnesses. Additionally, we don’t do any negative-G maneuvers that push you out of the airplane. During aerobatics, you may momentarily feel a bit light in the seat, but you aren’t going anywhere, we promise! Top
Can I bring a camera or a video recorder on the flight?
Yes, as long as you can keep control of the device so it does not blow out! If it departs the aircraft in flight, it is usually not recoverable. Your pilot has fast reflexes, but not that fast unfortunately. It is best to use a wrist strap if you are planning to take photos or video while on your flight. Additionally, depending on how busy the flight schedule is, there may be time to hook up external camera systems such as GoPro cameras. Coordinate this with your pilot when booking your flight for more information. Top
Is there a weight or a size limit for passengers?
Yes. The precise weight depends on the air temperature and density for the day of the flight but generally we can take anyone that is 250 pounds or less. The seat is adjustable in height and the cockpit is fairly roomy. For safety, however, we must reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Top
Is there an age limit? Is it handicapped accessible?
We have taken Cadets in their 90’s that have greatly enjoyed their flight lesson as well as children as young as 8. For children it really depends on the maturity of the child and how well they follow instructions. The seat is adjustable and additional seat cushions are available to make sure that children can sit high enough in the seat to see out, reach the controls, and enjoy the lesson. There are two way communications between the instructor and the Cadet so this usually helps as we’ve have found children have lots of questions! While we try to accommodate everyone, we take disabled customers on a case-by-case basis. Top
Can friends or relatives come watch the flight?
Absolutely, the more the merrier! Anyone attending will be able to participate in our pre-flight briefing, come out to see the airplane, view the aircraft taking off and landing. Unfortunately, the aerobatics will not be visible as FAA regulations prohibit them near airports. There is a climate controlled lounge area at the airport office with restroom facilities, TV, and snacks. Also there will be photo opportunities before and after the flight with the aircraft and/or pilot. We want everyone to enjoy the experience and have a great time! Top
Should I tip the pilot?
While tips are not required, they are certainly always appreciated. Many of our customers are so thrilled by their flight, they just can’t resist a small contribution. All tips go toward maintenance and upkeep of our trusty old biplane. Top
Do you offer group discounts or gift certificates?
Can I get a refund on a gift certificate?
Refunds to the original method of payment are offered only within 30 days of purchase. Top
What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept cash, credit cards, Venmo, and PayPal. Sorry, no personal checks. If paying cash, a $100 deposit by another method is required at the time of booking to confirm your appointment. Top
Can my flight be canceled like the airlines do?
There are a number of reasons we may be forced to cancel your flight (e.g. rain or gusty winds). Simply put, we will not take you up on a day where you will not be thrilled with your flight or if it is unsafe to fly. Your instructor has the authority to cancel, change, or shorten a flight due to weather or other factors beyond our control. If we are unable to fly at our scheduled time, we will make every effort to notify you promptly and will gladly coordinate with you to reschedule your flight for the next best date. Top
How safe is this really?
While there is an element of risk in flying, quite simply, your biggest risk will be driving to the airport. Safety ALWAYS takes priority over having fun. We operate with your safety as our #1 top priority! Period. We’ve given hundreds of flights over the years and your pilot is a highly qualified FAA certified pilot and flight instructor with thousands of hours of flying and instruction experience. We go above and beyond the FAA requirements to identify and mitigate risks in our operation while following the rules and regulations to the letter. We have a perfect safety record and the aircraft is maintained to meet the highest FAA maintenance standards for FAR Part 91 Flight Operations, to include pre-flight inspections, a thorough annual maintenance inspection as well as maintenance inspections every 100 hours of operation! Top
What are your COVID safety precautions?
We sanitize all cockpit surfaces with Clorox wipes before every flight. Hand sanitizer is available on request as well. We will wear a mask during our pre-flight briefing, aircraft inspection, and boarding. When fitting you with the parachute (if required) and while buckling you into the aircraft, we will both wear a mask as we will be in close contact with each other. You are NOT required to wear a mask during the flight, as we will be sitting in separate cockpits without contact and the open cockpit provides significant ventilation, meaning we are never breathing the same air.