Warbird Adventures

THE TEXAN PEO­PLE

Electric Flight - - SO YOU WANNA FLY A WARBIRD - war­bir­dad­ven­tures.com

Shar­ing a ramp with Stal­lion 51 in Kis­sim­mee, Warbird Adventures of­fers its clien­tele a first-class flight train­ing/warbird ex­pe­ri­ence and from the get-go clients are in the driver’s seat. Pi­lot or not, the ad­ven­turer will be in front of one of its T-6/SNJ Tex­ans with a highly ex­pe­ri­enced in­struc­tor in the back.

The owner of the op­er­a­tion, Thom Richard, well-known Reno racer, says, “I started the com­pany, Jan­uary 7, 1998 with one SNJ-6, which we still have. That grew to three, and we keep them busy. We’ve flown over 40,000 cus­tomers—about half of which were pilots but all re­ceived flight in­struc­tion. The rest are buffs and are fly­ing with us for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Some want to re­cap­ture some­thing from their youth. Oth­ers want to see what it is like to fly a warbird, and make no mis­take, the Texan may be a trainer, but it’s just as much of a warbird as most of the oth­ers. Ev­ery­thing about the ex­pe­ri­ence is ex­actly the same as in a fighter ex­cept the air­speed num­bers aren’t as high. We can do some aer­o­bat­ics, if wanted, or make the flight as smooth as glass. That’s all up to the cus­tomer.

“Those cus­tomers who are pilots also come for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Some just want the pro­fi­ciency. Oth­ers have never flown a tail­wheel and want to learn. Oth­ers are pre­par­ing to fly a fighter of some kind. Dur­ing WW II, the Texan was the last air­plane a stu­dent flew be­fore they climbed into a fighter, and al­most all cur­rent warbird pilots go the same route.

“We are an FAR [Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Reg­u­la­tion] Part 61 flight school, so we’re the same as the lo­cal Cessna fly­ing school and do all of our train­ing the same way. It’s just that our air­craft are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.”

An ad­van­tage to the Texan is that the cost is much lower to both buy and op­er­ate than any sin­gle-seat fighter, which makes its warbird ex­pe­ri­ence within reach of more peo­ple.

“SOME WANT TO RE­CAP­TURE SOME­THING FROM THEIR YOUTH. OTH­ERS WANT TO SEE WHAT IT IS LIKE TO FLY A WARBIRD, AND MAKE NO MIS­TAKE, THE TEXAN MAY BE A TRAINER, BUT IT’S JUST AS MUCH OF A WARBIRD AS MOST OF THE OTH­ERS.” —THOM RICHARD, WARBIRD ADVENTURES

Warbird Adventures keeps its three T-6 Tex­ans in the air al­most con­stantly, and pi­lot or non­pilot, all who fly with the com­pany oc­cupy the front seat on ev­ery flight. (Pho­tos by Mike Kil­lian)

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