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I took a biplane tour with San Diego Sky Tours

| Flying over San Diego in an open-pit biplane has to be something on your bucket list.

I had the chance to take a biplane tour with San Diego Sky Tours. It was one of the most exhilarating and memorable experiences in my life. Not only was flying in an open-aired cockpit plane on my bucket list but a BARREL ROLL? I never thought I would actually do it.

From a young age airplanes have always fascinated me. To me they carry stories. Missions. Excitement. I grew up watching airplanes fly over my childhood home in Ohio to land or take off from a major airport nearby. I always wondered where they were going, and who was on them. I went to school at a university that hosted an Aviation program. I would watch the planes take off and land on the runway strip that was only 3 seconds from my 300 dollar a month apartment. I officially made a decision to add “Flying in an open-aired plane” to my bucket list.

When Pilot Erich from San Diego Sky Tours reached out to me for an opportunity to fly over San Diego in a biplane, I immediately said yes. I’ll add in my disclaimer here that I am extremely afraid of heights and roller coasters. My immediate yes was quickly followed with a bit of anxiety all the way up to pulling into the Gibbs Flying Service center and being introduced to the team. Once I met them all my anxiety and nerves flew out the window, pun completely intended. With military and commercial experience, these skilled aviators left me reassured they know exactly what they’re doing.

Their facility is quaintly decorated with aviation gear and plane memorabilia; it really makes you feel like you are hanging out with Maverick from Top Gun.



With the mood perfectly set and the June gloom clearing up just enough for a good view, we started getting strapped in. Pilot suit on, sunglasses and cap secured, seat belts snatched tightly we were ready for take off. I heard the control tower and my pilot comfortably the whole time with each communication so I felt in the loop with our surroundings and weather patterns throughout. The take off was smooth and not as intimidating as one would think. Once we got in the air, I was speechless. Wind in my hair, smile from ear to ear I hear my pilot ask “How do you feel.” In that moment, I felt on top of the world.

Like a bird gliding blissfully through the clouds. I was soaring through Downtown San Diego. Petco Park, Maritime Museum, Navy ships, the view was VIP; no photo could do it justice. We took a trip over the Coronado Bridge, over the shoreline of Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and then La Jolla. When we got to La Jolla I could tell we were increasing our elevation. I started to chicken out because I knew the barrel roll question was about to come. I shamefully claim, “I don’t know if I can do a barrel roll.” I then hear a completely confident and reassuring, “You can do this, you are stronger than you think.” Then he proceeded to tell me an insider military saying they shout when they get scared, and BAM! I am upside down looking straight into the ocean. In that moment I felt unstoppable.

Here I am, the girl who wouldn’t ride a roller coaster, upside down in an open-aired cockpit over the dazzling blue ocean. I did it. I again hear the, “How do you feel, do you want to do another?” I shouted his military phrase, “Ain’t S#!T,” and screamed “YES!”

On the way back while still feeling that adrenaline I hear, “Do you want to fly?” I think you know my answer by now.

Here I am, the girl who wouldn’t ride a roller coaster, flying an open-aired airplane next to the cliffs of La Jolla in awe of what is actually happening. The pilots at San Diego Sky Tours also teach flying lessons. They know how to coach. I felt completely comfortable and safe the whole time. Not to mention, flying a biplane (or steering if you want to get technical) was surprisingly easy! I was pleasantly surprised with my capabilities, not to toot my own horn. Toot toot!

Overall, the whole experience, from meeting their “Maverick” to the flight and the team was one I will remember the rest of my life. Ticked two things off my bucket list: 1) open-aired plane ride and; 2) a barrel roll … and had the time of my life doing it! Thank you San Diego Sky Tours!


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