1. What does a ride cost?
Rides are currently offered at:
Ride prices vary with location. We are able to offer a discounted rate at our home base due to decreased operating costs, but outlying event ride rates are set commensurate with fuel costs and increased costs associated with aircraft travel. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and blog posts for each event to find ride rates.
For more information, please contact us at (903) 702-5353 or via Facebook messenger at https://m.me/lonestarcaf. The time you pay for is actual flight time and not just "time in seat"...your time "in the airplane" will be a bit longer than listed above...but it varies based on taxi time and other traffic at the airport, etc. The money made from these rides goes directly to aircraft maintenance and operational costs.
2. What happens on a ride?
We'll start by helping you get strapped into the airplane. Your pilot will give you a safety briefing (pay close attention to this) and make sure you understand important safety information with regard to the airplane and your role in the air. Once that is complete, your pilot will start the engine, and you'll taxi out. There'll be a bit of a pause near the runway for a run up to check the engine, then you'll take off. Usually, you'll stay in the local area (no more than about 5 miles away). You'll be given the opportunity to "feel" the airplane (flying with your pilot shadowing you on the controls) and then your pilot will show you some fun maneuvers. The intensity of the maneuvers can be varied, so if you just want an easy cruise we can do that...if you want a bit more of a roller-coster ride...we can do that too! Currently we are not offering full acrobatic rides...but we do guarantee you'll have a smile on your face at the end of our standard ride. Time will fly and soon you'll be heading back to the airport to land. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity...book a ride today!
2. I'm a pilot. Can I fly the plane?
YES! Riders are usually given the chance to "feel" the controls. You won't be able to land or takeoff, but you'll certainly be given the opportunity to maneuver the plane a bit while we are in the air at a safe altitude. Your pilot will brief you on what's allowed and will have their hands and feet on the controls the whole time.
3. OK, but I want to FLY (as Pilot in Command)!
GREAT! We can do that too. Here's a quick summary of the process (for a more detailed look at flying with us click here):
You must be a CAF member and a member of the LSW to fly the airplane as Pilot In Command (PIC). You must sponsor the airplane (click here to read about aircraft sponsorship at the CAF HQ website) and you need to be checked out in the airplane. You will need to meet minimum experience requirements as stipulated in current CAF regulations. CAF HQ will issue a letter to allow you to train. Once you complete the required training, you can fly the plane! There is an hourly cost (currently $150/hr PLUS fuel costs) you will pay out of pocket for personal flying. It's very effective to support our mission by sharing your love of this historic airplane with someone else during your personal flying so taking a passenger with you is a great thing. You can also be checked out to fly the airplane selling rides (this requires a FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate and further work with HQ to be approved). The best way to get a detailed outline and ask questions is to attend a meeting and meet us face to face. We'll walk you around the airplane after the meeting and chat about the process of joining us and getting checked out. Your dream of Stearman time in your logbook can come true! Join us!
4. Why are there costs associated with flying the aircraft as Pilot in Command if I'm a volunteer (and what if I have Stearman time already?)
All CAF aircraft are volunteer-flown and volunteer maintained. The money needed to maintain and operate the aircraft is contributed primarily through ride-selling for most CAF units with airplanes like our Stearman. Flying the aircraft as a PIC for currency or ride-selling is a volunteer position, but aircraft sponsorship is a part of the commitment a pilot makes to the CAF mission to "Keep 'em Flying". You can read more about sponsorship here: https://commemorativeairforce.org/pages/Sponsor%20a%20CAF%20Aircraft. If you have Stearman time already, we would LOVE to have you on board! Most likely, you'll be able to forego much of the flight training and go right to the checkout with a CAF IP rated for the aircraft. All of the other aspects of the process outlined here are still needed to fly with us.
The trainer aircraft are the lowest sponsorship donation in the CAF fleet - $1500. Our pilots typically find this amount to be incredible bang for the buck as it's a one-time donation (tax-deductible) and opens the door to becoming a Stearman PIC. The Lone Star Wing also asks pilots to pay $150/hr (tach time) and pay their own fuel bill when flying the aircraft for personal use (always in support of the CAF mission). This model is the same as some CAF units and different than others. For our unit size, it makes good sense to ask our pilots to pay a bit back into the "kitty" for aircraft maintenance if they are flying the airplane for personal use. This avoids the sudden "assessments" that happen with other models that do not charge an hourly rate. For instance, at the LSW when the aircraft needs tires (typically $1100 - $1500 for tires and tubes), the unit simply purchases the parts out of maintenance funds. The accounts used to purchase the tires are built up by aircraft sponsorship monies and the hourly rate for personal use. In other models (with no hourly rate) the unit may have to come to the aircraft sponsors and membership in general and request donations to offset the cost of the parts/labor for a given issue.
Typical costs for items recently needed on the aircraft are listed below:
Main Gear Tires and Tubes: $750 per wheel
Oil Change: $200
ELT Battery: $450
Once again, you can click here to learn about the process of getting checked out in the Stearman. As always, come out to a meeting and hang out with us! We are a great group and love sharing with new folks. We can answer all of your questions much more easily in a face-to-face conversation. See you soon!