It’s hard not to imagine being a young pilot on a mission during World War II as the plane taxis down the runway.
Only five feet out in front of the windshield, the wooden propeller lets out a series of whumps. As you pick up speed, the wind begins to swirl in the open-cockpit.
The sound of the engine chugs then roars as 300 hundred horsepower levels the nose of the plane. And then, the feeling of flight.
After a quick bank to the right, the view of downtown Austin comes into sight and you realize this is not World War II — you are a passenger in the open-cockpit of the red biplane. Behind you and in control of the plane is Robert Whiteside, Owner and Operating Pilot of Austin Biplane.
As you head away from the runways of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and into the skyline of downtown Austin, you climb to 1000 feet. You fly over the bumper to bumper matchbox cars on I-35 and parallel the skyline of the city just to the south of Lady Bird Lake.
As you near South Congress, Rob’s voice comes through your leather helmet with built-in headphones to inform you that you’re going to take a right hand turn up South Congress for a view of the Texas State Capitol.
The plane banks hard to the right. Sideways. Quickly back to the left. Level. And there right in front of you — through the blades of a spinning propeller — the Texas State Capitol. The view looking up South Congress towards the Capitol building from the street is special. The same view from 1000 feet in the air is really special.
You take a spin around the Capitol building, right over the top of Frost Bank Tower, and circle Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. Hook ‘em Horns!
From there it’s off to Zilker Park. The colors of red, orange, and yellow kayaks pop against the green water of Lady Bird Lake.
With Lake Austin below, you head away from downtown. That allows you to drop from 1000 feet to 500 feet. The plane has you feeling like you’re taking a gentle stroll through the sky to being a fighter pilot in a split second — you drop 500 feet in about one half of a second.
It won’t be long before Pennybacker Bridge is below and the blue waters of Lake Travis appear off in the distance. You make your way just to the south of Hudson Bend. Lakeway on the left. The Oasis the right.
You drop down for some low passes over the water just upriver from Emerald Point Marina. You get a feel for g-force as the plane banks and circles. Back to level as you head directly down the main channel of Lake Travis towards Mansfield Dam.
Flying with Rob is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can take a flight around the city, fly upside down over Lake Travis, or head out to the lake for a sunset cruise with your sweety and a glass of champagne.
It’s not until you start making your way back towards downtown that you start to take this all in. The city. The lakes. The beauty of Austin and the surrounding Hill Country. You gain a whole new perspective from up here.