Plane Fun- A "Plane" Review
Living near a small airport, you can get very used to the sight of small planes flying overhead. I've lived near Sussex Airport my entire life, and I've always dreamed of being able to fly one of those planes. I went through a phase, when I was really young, where I studied everything I could about aircraft. That phase passed, but my love of small aircraft didn't. I still desperately wanted to fly one. Considering the prices however, I really didn't think I'd ever be able to. Doubly so as a broke college student. I was extremely lucky to win a gift certificate to a place I had never heard of before, Plane Fun. It promised an amazing flight over Central NJ and Eastern PA, video of the flight, and... myself piloting the plane at altitude? I had to read that twice before it really sunk in. I'll admit that I was really skeptical at first. I don't have a pilot’s license, and I've never been up in a small plane. I can honestly say that despite my reservations, I had an absolutely amazing time, from beginning to end.
Summary of the Day
I met George Barnes at the Van Sant Airport at ten in the morning the day of my flight. It was a pretty clear day, but it was forecasted to rain later on. I found him filling his Cessna 150. I was immediately stuck by how friendly and knowledgeable he was. Through the entire experience, beginning to end, he had no problems with answering questions or explaining what he was doing and why. Soon, we were both strapped in, and George was explaining all the preflight checks that he was doing. Before I knew it, we were cruising at about 1500 feet. He was an excellent teacher. He showed me how to check the wing before making any turns, then how to make the turns. He pointed out which instruments to pay closer attention to when turning. The plane was much more responsive than I thought it would be. George let me have fun just turning the plane and flying for a little while, then decided to take the plane to a slightly higher altitude. The wind had picked up, and was making the ride a little rougher. Once at around 2500 feet, George began explaining to me about lift and drag, and how the plane would continue gliding even if the engine cut out. He demonstrated this by doing what all pilots must practice. He stalled the engine of the plane. After a second, the he restarted the engine. It was pretty awesome. He did it once more, letting the engine stall for a few seconds longer. It was amazing. We were 2500 feet up, with the Delaware River, west New Jersey and east Pennsylvania spread out underneath us. It was a pretty clear day, and you could see for miles. All the farmland, and the small towns I had driven through were so much smaller up here. Just on the horizon, I could see the Appalachian Mountains. The engine was stalled, and we were gliding, so it was much quieter. The whole world was spread out beneath us. Then he dipped the nose of the plane, and restarted the engine. By this point, the wind had picked up again, and the turbulence was beginning to wreak havoc with my stomach. I let him know, and we headed back to the airport. He kept me pretty well distracted by telling me funny stories about flying.
Up in the Air!
The wind had continued to pick up, and caused the plane to yaw slightly when coming in to land. George had flown in much worse weather though, and easily landed safely back on the ground. He pulled the plane off the runway, and gave me a minute to settle my stomach. While he waited he pointed out a glider that had two people around it. One was in a wheelchair. George explained that the man was a Vietnam Veteran, who had a special glider with hand controls. He would take people who were paralyzed up in his glider, for free, so that they knew what it was like to fly. After the plane was parked, he took me over to meet them. I was honored to meet someone who was willing to go to all that trouble so others would know what it was like to fly. It looked like they were leaving, but George let me hang around while he went through his post flight routine. He had no problem with me pestering him with questions. George was kind enough to show me a few of the other planes at the airport at that time, before I had to leave.
I would highly recommend Plane Fun to just about anyone. I can say in all honesty that it’s the most fun that I’ve had in a long time. George Barnes was friendly and an excellent pilot. As I said before, he was incredibly patient with all my pestering questions. Being in, and flying a small plane was a dream come true for me. I don’t have the money for formal lessons, so without Plane Fun I most likely would never had gone up. If you happen to be looking for a bit of adventure on your vacation in Central or North NJ, I would highly recommend Plane Fun. George Barnes is highly knowledgeable, and an excellent pilot. The view was amazing, and the entire experience one to remember. It will cost you about $300, and you do need to book in advance. I booked about a month in advance with no problems. It was exciting, and a definite change from my day to day routine. It’s recommended that if you have never been in a small aircraft before, that you book for a weekday, in the morning or the evening. As George Barnes explained to me, “ It tends to get rougher in the afternoon when the ground warms up. The heat forms thermals, which makes for a rougher time.” If you go in the morning, the town nearby (Frenchtown NJ) offers a great market street, and there’s also plenty of places to picnic. You do get the SD card with your video included in the price. If you send the SD card back, he'll put the video of your flight up on his website! Of course, after he puts the video up, he will send the SD card back with your video still on it. If you want to learn more about Plane Fun, here is the link : http://www.planefun.biz/index.html To contact George Barnes, call 862-207-9096.