Her mission eventually took us to The Hangar Restaurant in downtown St. Pete. In the lobby we were greeted by Chris who asked the Belle, "Is this him?" The plot thickened. After a brief but veiled conversation with my bride, Chris handed me a liability waiver I was prodded to sign. I did as I was told, and then accompanied the two plotters out to the tarmac just outside the terminal and Hangar building.
Still unsure of what fate had in store for me, we approached a 1941 vintage Stearman biplane. A light of realization began to glow brightly in my brain. Weeks earlier, I had seen a biplane cruising the beach at Indian Shores. "Wow!" spaketh I, an aficionado of WWI war planes, "I would love to fly in one of those." Well, this day my dream came true.
The Stearman wasn't born back in the days of the Great War to end all wars. It also wasn't a Nieuport, or a Sopwith Camel, or a Spad, or even one of those mother Fokkers the Germans used. The Stearman also wasn't equipped with a Lewis machine gun (my only disappointment of the day), but it was a biplane and I was going to fly in it ... after checking my gauges.
A thumbs up from my backseat Captain Billy, and we were on our way. Our mission: recon the Pinellas beaches to spot and photograph places of interest.
This was an exhilarating experience - flying like an eagle with nothing between me and the sky.
|The John's Pass Bridge|
|Coming out of the turn, Capt. Billy said, "Take the stick!" So I did and I was flying this baby.|
|The Pink Palace, Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach|
With a completed mission and a safe landing it was time to head for The Hangar for a cold brew or two. And, a hearty "thank you" to my bride for this amazing Flying Adventure.