1. What is included in the scenic flight?
a. Besides an airplane, fuel and a pilot? Customers may request for a nominal charge, an attractive certificate suitable for framing, or an official flight logbook signed by the pilot indicating the type of aircraft flown, and designation as having logged flight time in our Cub or Stearman. We also have available a Silver Wings Flying Co. decal or embroidered patch along with digital pictures of the event e-mailed to you. Lastly, return customers receive a 5% discount on future flights.
2. What happens if the engine stops?
a. A Cub flies pretty much the same with or without the engine (don’t ask us how we know that), the Stearman not so much, the Schweizer glider...flies like a glider. Your pilots also fly with alternate landing sites within gliding distance to enhance safety.
3. Where do I sit?
a. We prefer you use one of the two seats provided in the cockpit. If you want to hang from the wing strut like a human wind sock, or straddle the fuselage like a rodeo clown, we’ll have to charge extra. Seriously, you will sit in the front seat of the Cub and the Stearman and it’s a fabulous view.
4. What happens if we fly into rain?
a. We’ll all get wet so we’ll do our best to not let that happen
5. What are the chances of hitting another aircraft?
a. Our pilots are local, highly experienced professionals. Your flight will take place in un-congested areas, and with a constant emphasis on safety. Plus, our airplanes are bright yellow which greatly aids in visual separation.
6. If the door opens will I fall out?
a. No, all maneuvers will be extremely gentle (unless you specify otherwise), The Cub is equipped with modern 4-point safety belt while the Stearman has a locking, 5-point aerobatic harness. If you’re still intent on falling out, we’ll have to refer you to the skydiving operation a few miles away. We’ve never lost a passenger (or student) yet!
7. Will I get sick?
a. Not unless you’re sick before boarding the airplane. We’ve also equipped each plane with a dumpster sized sick sack. That said, if you have a weak stomach, consider taking Bonine or Dramamine. Plus, don’t eat anything you won’t mind seeing later. We strongly recommend that the airport not be your last stop after an all night pub crawl through the South Sound. Additionally, let us know ahead of time of any queasiness, and we’ll do our best to schedule your flight on a day when smooth conditions exist to ensure the most enjoyable flying experience. Unlike modern enclosed aircraft cabins, it’s actually difficult to get sick with the wind in your face.
8. Can my cell phone make the plane crash?
a. No, your phone may very well be the most sophisticated piece of equipment on the plane. However, if you have it stuck to your ear the whole time, you’ll miss most of the scenery.
9. Can I fly the airplane?
a. We don’t know… can you? Actually, we encourage customers to take the controls to the extent they’re comfortable, but we’re perfectly happy to just let you take in the view. There’s nothing you can do to the plane that we can’t promptly correct. Plus, you can’t say you’ve truly experienced the Cub or Stearman without gently banking either of them towards a stunning northwest sunset. Lastly, all our pilots are experienced flight instructors which mean you can legally log your flight with us as training time.
10. Can I land the plane?
a. We hope not, or else you wouldn’t need us. If you insist but are not successful, it will cost an extra $100,000 for aircraft replacement.
11. If the pilot passes out what should I do?
a. Vigorously try to wake him up, or review the answer to question #9.
12. How should I dress?
a. We prefer super hero costumes as well as the occasional Smokey the Bear outfit but…most any 100% cotton, casual attire is safe and appropriate. However we do ask that you wear flat soled, close-toed shoes and pants or shorts. Skirts and dresses are not recommended (and make us blush) as entry and exit into either airplane isn’t particularly graceful. We also discourage against large, clunky “work boots” because they tend to interfere with safe operation of the flight controls. Apparently, 1940’s feet were smaller than the current versions. Both planes can be drafty during all seasons so at least a sweatshirt is recommended equipment during the winter, and a wind breaker or long sleeves during the summer just in case. If it’s cold out, dress as you would if you were riding in a soft top Jeep. We also provide leather flight jackets and headset, or the requisite leather cap and goggles for the Stearman.
13. Will the pilot accept tips?
a. He might get his figurative feathers ruffled if you debrief him his piloting technique, but otherwise he’ll probably be elated if you let him know you enjoyed your flying experience. Seriously, everyone likes to know they’re appreciated, but tips are never expected. We usually get the same warm fuzzies from a sincere handshake, hug or a dreamy skyward stare post flight.
14. Can children go for rides?
a. Uhmm, yep!
17. Can I purchase a gift certificate?
a. Absolutely, just call us with the specifics, and we’ll send it to you or arrange a pick-up in some dark airport alley.
18. How do I schedule a flight?
a. Call us, email, or stop by Olympia airport when you see the planes parked outside
19. Can we just walk up and take a flight?
a. While it may seem like we live at the airport, we really do have a house just like everyone else. You are welcome to walk up, and go flying any time you see the airplanes outside. If a flight time isn’t immediately available, we can tell you when an opening can be scheduled later in the day. However, we recommend you call first to ensure the day’s schedule isn’t booked up with reserved flights. Otherwise, we’ll race you to the cockpit!
20. What if I can’t make it to Olympia?
a. With prior coordination, we can fly to the nearest airport to provide a custom scenic flight experience. You will be charged for the enroute time to and from your destination in addition to the actual scenic flight, but talk about a specially tailored gift! Call us for restrictions and pricing.
21. When do you fly?
a. Just about any time you ask us to. Both airplanes are available every flyable weekend from 9am to sunset on Saturday, and from 1pm to sunset on Sunday. Special reservations can be accommodated if you want to catch the sunrise, or during the week with prior arrangement. We are closed during July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas day, New Year’s Day, and Easter.
b. Unfortunately, we’ve learned that you can’t make a living just flying antique airplanes, so we all have day jobs which may keep us away from the airport for a few weeks or even a couple of months a year. If you have a specific date you want to fly, call ahead so we can be sure we’ll be home.
22. Are there scheduling or cancellation restrictions?
a. We require 24 hours notice for cancelling or rescheduling a flight. A 100% penalty applies to cancellations without the required notice. It takes an hour of pre and post flight preparation and clean up for a 15 minute flight. For the layperson, that means no refunds if you don’t call ahead and cancel. If you haven’t prepaid, you go on the vintage airplane “Black List” that is distributed worldwide.
23. Can you help me keep a gift flight secret?
a. C’mon, can Navy SEALs and federal agents keep secrets?
24. What can you do to make our flight truly special?
a. We can arrange for catering to include your favorite coffee upon arrival for your sunrise flight, a healthy lunch after a long day of surveying the local landscape, or a thoughtfully packed picnic lunch for a special post flight celebration at the airport. These are just a few ideas, we can make your whims come true for a memorable outing!
25. Can people with physical challenges fly with you?
a. Usually yes, and we encourage it! Some of our most memorable flights have been with physically challenged passengers. We can lift, hoist or stuff anyone who sincerely wants to experience flight. We will make every effort to accommodate passengers with disabilities. Everyone deserves to hear the sound of an antique Continental engine, and the sensation of the breeze blowing on your cheek as the Cub slips to a soft landing. The Cub and Stearman require some physical effort to board, but within the constraints of safety, we will do our best to make it work. Give us a call with specifics so we can make any special equipment arrangements in advance.
26. Is it scary?
a. Our goal is to ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible. There will be no abrupt maneuvers or any more excitement than the average airliner…but with a much better view! Our ultra conservative administrative assistant says it’s the “best dog seat she’s ever had,” and she’s flown in some pretty neat airplanes. A few wind gusts notwithstanding, we will make every effort to provide the gentlest flight possible. If you want to get your heart pumping, we can be persuaded to take you through several approved, non-aerobatic maneuvers that our youngest member says “tickles his tummy.”
27. What if I want to do something really fun in an airplane?
a. It’s all fun, but if you want something extra special, sign up for our “Tumbling Gyro” flight in the Stearman.
28. Is it safe?
a. While we try to keep a light hearted atmosphere at SWFC, we are deadly serious about safety. Our pilots and mechanics are some of the most experienced you’ll find in the region. All are commercially rated flight instructors and multi-thousand hour military, airline or corporate pilots, or all of the above.
b. Our aircraft are maintained to standards far exceeding federal aviation regulations by mechanics intimately familiar with antique airplanes. If you see us periodically working on the planes, or a slight delay takes place while we correct a problem because some aspect of the aircraft or weather conditions aren’t “quite right,” don’t be alarmed. The flights you should worry about are the ones who won’t terminate the ride when something’s wrong. As we’ve explained to several cautious parents, “We will take care of your loved one as we do our own children who frequently fly with us.”
c. That said, we strive to make your experience as safe as possible, but everything (enjoyable) in life involves some degree of risk. You must be the judge as to what’s an acceptable level. Put your flight in perspective, after all, you won’t have near as much fun if you stick to more conservative pursuits like golf and knitting!
d. In any event, we reserve the right to shorten, alter, delay, postpone, or cancel any flight in the interest of your (and our) safety.
29. Are you insured?
a. Yep, medical, dental and volcano. Beyond that, we are properly insured and authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct professional scenic flights within 25 miles of Olympia or any airport we depart from, and flight instruction in antique tailwheel aircraft.
b. Scenic flight businesses are required by federal regulations to participate in drug and alcohol testing, and obtain scenic flight specific insurance. Many operations choose not to because of the added expense and categorize the flight as “instructional”. Should you decide to fly with another company, ask if they are insured and authorized by the FAA (in writing) to conduct scenic flights. If not, don’t walk, run away because if they choose to violate basic regulations, what else are they neglecting?
30. Will I be required to sign a waiver?
a. We are extremely proud of our safety record. However, we have been forced to submit to the current trend of requiring customers to sign a liability waiver if you want to have fun anywhere in the current litigious society. To prove we’re not being paranoid, you’ll have to sign a similar waiver to exercise at the local gym. An adult’s signature is required for flyers under 18 years old. If your lawyer is shiftier than ours, ask to review our waiver (link to downloads)several days before your flight. If you refuse to sign the waiver at the time of your scheduled flight, you will be charged for the flight in the same manner as any other customer who chooses to decline a previously guaranteed reservation without prior notice. You will not be required to sign the waiver, but we cannot take you flying.
31. Are we limited to a standard flight route?
a. Absolutely not! We offer standard routes and durations based on previous customer recommendations, and to ease the decision making process. However, we’ll take you anywhere within 25 miles. Don’t expect to reach the 25 mile limit in a reasonable amount of time though, cuz’ your kid could bike there faster than the Cub on a windy day. Let your pilot where you’d like to go, and we’ll figure out if you can make it within your time constraints. That said, we may be further limited by incoming weather, temporary flight restrictions, or the occasional curious UFO.
32. Can we bring cameras?
a. Please! If you forget, we’ll snap a few photos and email them to you to capture the moment. One word of caution, make sure your camera or video camera has a lanyard to wrap around your wrist. The Cub and Stearman can be breezy and we don’t want to litter the South Sound with perfectly good photo equipment or cell phones.
33. What are your weather minimums?
a. We (and the FAA) require at least 2,000’ ceilings and 3 miles of visibility. Please don’t no-show for flights because you think the weather is unsuitable. Unless you have a meteorology degree, we’re probably more familiar with local weather patterns, and we don’t like to be rained on either. We promise we’ll call as early as possible to let you know if the weather won’t be flyable. Otherwise, if you see the plane parked outside…we’re flying!
34. What if the weather is bad?
a. If you are suspect of the weather, call us before you leave for the airport (unless we’ve called you). Even if it’s nice where you are, it might be a torrential down pour where we are, and the opposite applies as well. We try to be predictable, but if we should have to alter or shorten a flight due to weather, you will only be charged for the time flown. Furthermore, if we can’t fly you during your scheduled reservation, we’ll give ourselves a migraine trying to re-schedule at your convenience.
b. In any case, we will make the prudent weather decision. If you decide not to come out, and we’re flying, you’ll be charged for the flight. This is a swanky way of saying, “if you don’t show, we’re going to yank some money out of your credit card.” That’s the beauty of guaranteed reservations. We promise there’ll be a shiny taildragger (and pilot) with your name on it, and you promise to pay us for making it available.
35. How long are gift certificates valid?
a. One year after purchase, or longer depending on the creativity of your sob story.
36. What can I do with an expired gift certificate?
a. Store it in the bottom of your wallet, recycle it, line a bird cage perhaps? Joking aside, it’s a has-been, a used-to-be gift certificate, like a concert ticket the day after…not worth much. All gift certificates purchased are refundable for 30 days. Economics being what they are, your 15 minute ride certificate you bought this year may be worth 5 minutes next year.
37. Who am I talking to when I call or email?
a. Seeing as we have a full time staff of two, your phone call will go straight to the top of the corporation. You are talking to the owners, pilots, mechanics, accountants, and hangar sweepers. We try to answer all calls before they go to voice mail, but we may be in the middle of herding cats, or a mean game of Twister. We sincerely promise to call or email you back as soon as possible.
38. How do I pass on comments or suggestions?
a. You can tell us face to face, call us, email us, or even snail mail us. We’d love to know if you had a great experience flying with us or more importantly, why you didn’t have the time of your life, and what we can do to make it better next time. Just email us or call at the information provided on our contact page.
39. How can I reach the owners?
a. The best way to reach us directly is to call (360) 485-7207 or via email at Stearmann4@msn.com
40. My flight inspired me, where can I take lessons?
a. We’ve chosen to focus on introducing folks to the wonder of flight and vintage airplanes. If we’ve sparked an interest in earning your pilot’s license, we can point you in the direction of some great local flight schools that specialize in teaching you how to soar like an eagle.
41. What if I just want to come out and look at the airplanes?
a. Give us a call, and we’ll be happy to open the hangar and provide a custom tailored presentation at no charge. We especially encourage scouts, teachers, schools, and social groups to come out the airport and look at, touch, and slobber on the planes. We’ll be happy to provide a pilot to discuss all aspects of aviation from how an airplane flies, to weather, and what it takes to become a pilot. Aviation encompasses nearly every principle of math and science, and makes a truly unique field trip. How else will the next generation become inspired aviators? That’s how we got to where we are now. Drop us a line and we’ll help make arrangements.
42. I had such a great time on my flight, I’d like to help pass the good word. How can I help?
a. Word of mouth and a satisfied customer is the best advertising. We’d be happy to send a plane load of brochures ad business cards for you to hand out to co-workers, relatives, and even innocent bystanders. We also sincerely appreciate letters or emails if you enjoyed your experience to share as testimony with perspective flyers on our Logbook page.