Frequently asked questions
*Where are you located?
Our home base is Culpeper Regional Airport, which is about 65 miles southwest of Washington, DC, about an hour and fifteen minute drive from DC. See the "Contact" page for a Google Maps link. We will sometimes do away events and these will be listed on our "Event Schedule" page.
*Are appointments required?
Most of the time an appointment is a good idea, you can make one by phone or by e-mail. A day or two of advance notice should be suitable. If you're in the area on the spur of the moment you can always try calling to see if we happen to be at the airport that day. When we do special events with large crowds we do not take appointments and operate on a first-come first-served basis, and only offer our shortest length rides so that as many people as possible can have the open-cockpit biplane experience.
*When should we arrive at the airport?
You should arrive for an appointment at least 20 minutes prior to the time of your flight. You will need to read and sign a standard liability release, and we will provide you with cloth flying helmets and can provide goggles as well. Goggles aren't really needed in the Travel Air, and you can wear sunglasses or prescription glasses and the flying helmet should keep them on as long as it's properly secured. At Culpeper we will meet at the airport office, and if you have friends and/or family who are coming to watch they can observe from there.
*Are there weather limits for the flights?
We want the flights to be fun, so if it's too bumpy we won't go. Wind limits depend on the direction of the wind, 20 mph right down the runway might be OK, but 10 mph across the runway might be too much. We can fly in light rain, but the cloud ceiling must be high enough and visibility must be good enough at all times. As far as temperatures go, 50 degrees F and above is OK, and we can fly when it's colder than that, but you need to bundle up. All operations are at the sole discretion of the pilot and all of the pilot's decisions are final.
*What should we wear?
Comfortable clothes are best, and no high heels. It will be about 5 degrees colder up there, and of course there is a wind factor. Above 75 degrees F you should be OK in short sleeves, and at 90 degrees it will feel good up there. Below 75 you will probably want a light jacket, and below 65 something more substantial. If you want to go when it's 38 outside you'll want to look like a Teddy Bear before flying...
As stated above you can wear glasses while flying as long as you keep the flying helmet tightly secured over them.
Also, we will provide earmuff style hearing protectors.
*What are the passenger accommodations like?
The Travel Air was designed in 1925, when people were smaller, so there are limits on who we can fit in the passenger cockpit. It's 32 inches wide, and we are also limited by weight, which is somewhat dependent on fuel load and other factors. As a general rule our weight limits are 375 pounds for two passengers and 275 pounds for one passenger.
Passengers with mobility issues may be accommodated if we can figure out a way to get them into the front cockpit, so don't hesitate to ask.
Passengers under 8 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Passengers over 90 will still say that it was the best ride of their lives...
If at any time during the flight you want to return to the airport for some reason give the pilot a thumbs down and he will land as soon as possible.
It may seem counter intuitive to have the passengers in the front and the pilot in the back, but most biplanes were designed that way because the passengers are near the center of gravity, so the airplane balances about the same whether there are passengers or not, and the design takes into account that there will always be a pilot weight in the rear cockpit. Because of the resulting reduction in forward visibility you will notice that while moving on the ground the pilot will weave back and forth slightly to keep an eye on what's ahead.
*Will you do loops, and can a passenger take the controls?
We are not legally allowed to do aerobatics like loops and rolls with passengers, so no upside down flying. Most rides will include a couple of wing-overs, which are a 30 degree climb, a 60 degree banked 180 degree turn, and a 30 degree dive, recovering to level flight. If you just want straight and level flying let the pilot know before take-off.
The Travel Air was built with front cockpit controls so that it could be used for dual instruction back in the day, but we have removed or disconnected them to allow for carrying two passengers at once. If enough interest is shown we might consider a program where we reinstall and reconnect the front controls for some flights so that Carter can give dual instruction while airborne and the passenger could put Travel Air time in his or her logbook, but for now that is not an option.
*Can I bring a camera?
Yes, you can and should bring a camera to record the fun, but hang onto it. We are not responsible for articles lost overboard!
*What kind of payments are accepted?
We can accept Visa and Master Card credit cards, and of course cash is always OK.
*Should I tip the pilot?
Tips are not expected, but are certainly appreciated when offered-