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(2013 - Winter Issue)


Perhaps you’ve relaxed on the powdery sands, swum in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters off the coast of Central West Florida and toured St. Petersburg’s and Clearwater’s acclaimed museums and aquarium.

But have you really sampled this holiday destination if you haven’t flown a few hundred metres above it in a two-seat aircraft?

And if you feel comfortable enough, you can take over the controls of the flying“Trike.” Whether you’re steering or leave that to the pilot, it’s up to you if you wish to climb higher—typically, up to 457 metres over land—or drop down as low as 91 metres over water to watch dolphins—and a wide variety of other marine life—frolicking in the emerald-clear Gulf waters.

Or perhaps you want to scout neighbourhoods to find a place to buy, so you can spend months on this sunny coast in the winter, instead of just a week or two.

Take in the Sights

Sky Surfing offers this exhilarating airborne thrill. Its pilots are certified by the U.S. government’s Federal Aviation Administration to fly the factory-built weight-shift-control aircraft, which is equipped with a ballistic parachute for emergency situations, making it one of the safest. 

The plane rests on three wheels, hence the nickname “Trike.” Two seats are positioned one behind the other. First-time passengers occupy the rear seat in front of the engine and propeller and may graduate to the front seat on future flights.

The aircraft lacks the rudder and wing divisions a pilot normally manipulates to climb, descend and turn but overhead is an aluminum-and-fabric delta-shaped wing. Once aloft, the pilot or passenger controls the aircraft by moving the control bar attached to the wing from side to side. Pilot and passenger both wear headsets so they can communicate.

As you take in the bird’s-eye view, you’ll hear the wind but very little engine noise. And you fly slowly enough to focus on what’s below.

Flights are sold in increments of airtime—20, 40 or 60 minutes or a 2.5-hour advanced lesson—which determine how far from the general aviation airport in Clearwater you’ll travel. An hour-long trip could include flying south of the iconic Sunshine Skyway, the world’s longest cable-stay bridge, which crosses the mouth of Tampa Bay to link the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area with points farther south along the Gulf coast.

It’s all the stuff of memories. To alleviate concerns about anything falling out of the aircraft, personal cameras are not allowed on board. However, the plane is outfitted with video cameras to record the entire experience—including your big, wide grin.

Travel Planner

For more information:

St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau: visitstpeteclearwater.com

Sky Surfing: sky-surfing.com

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