When we were doing the planning for a fun vacation in Orlando, we were looking for some unusual and different adventures and someone suggested that we check out Warbird Adventures. We visited their website and immediately booked a flight with them - and it turned out that Warbird Adventures was one of the highlights of our week in Orlando.
Warbird Adventures is central Florida's largest, oldest, and most experienced T-6 flight schools and they offer a variety of services and fun things to see and do including:
I signed up for a ride in the T-6 which was the premier fighter trainer during World War II and over 70% of the Allied pilots received their fighter training in the T-6. I was excited as my pilot, John, a dedicated and enthusiastic pilot who loves flying, strapped me in, tested my head phone communications with him, and slid the window closed. I immediately started checking out all the vintage instruments, the flight controls, and listening closely as the engine was warming up - after all I was getting ready to ascend to 3,000 feet in a 1946 aircraft. In a somewhat squeaky voice I ask John, "How many hours on the engine, how often do you service it, and have the rudders and cables been replaced recently?" His retort was "did your wife tell you to ask those questions?" His answers give me some additional confidence and I relaxed a tad as we started zig zagging down the runway. John immediately sensed my concern and stated "we zig zag down the runway because from our position and the angle of the nose, we can't see in front of us." Hmmm, I wonder what happens when we take off.
We made it safely to the end of the runway, revved the engine, and took off with a sister T-6 off our right wing tip. It wasn't long before we were at 3,000 feet with a fantastic view of the Orlando area. And then the fun started as John:
And then John asks, "Ready to do a 360 roll?" A what! My heart rate jumped as he said "just push the stick far right and keep the foot pedals steady." Oh sure! Next thing I know we did a 360 and ended right side up. Amazing! I was just starting to relax when John said, "Ok, now we'll do a dive to let you experience some Gs. You'll need to take a deep breath so you won't black out." What! I have been known to throw up on a ferris wheel and now we are going to do a dive after doing a loop. I quickly checked to make sure the barf bag was still in place, which was pointed out as part of the pre flight orientation. How in the world would I be able do a loop and not black out or throw-up? I hoped my life insurance policy was up to date!
"Are you ready?" John ask.
"Suuuurrrre! But do I take a deep breath now or later!" I stuttered!
"I'll tell you when to take the breath and I'm taking the controls back. Insurance doesn't allow us to let you do the dive." Whew! Next thing I know, I'm holding my breath before John told me to and we are heading straight up toward the sun.
And now straight down. "Wow, that was fantastic, let's do it again!"
All too soon it was time to head back to the hanger. What an outstanding and unique experience. It made me want sign up for another ride and flying lessons. If you're headed to Orlando, make sure you add a flight with Warbird Adventures to your agenda. They offer several flight options and make sure that you get the 3 camera in flight digital video as well as the in flight 35 mm stills - you'll want both to show your family and friends and add some new pictures to your wall.
Plan on spending some extra time before or after your flight exploring the Kissimmee Air Museum which is in the same building. The museum is home to a unique collection of airplanes and other projects in various stages of restoration; constantly evolving exhibits of pictures, memorabilia, and artifacts; and several other interesting aviation related exhibits. When we visited, there was a very well done and informative display on the Pearl Harbor attack.
Flying with Warbirds is a must if you're in the area. Beware, after your flight you may be so addicted that you'll sign up for lessons. Give them a call at 407 870-7366 or visit their website.
Return to the Orlando Vacation page to read more about this fantastic vacation.