My husband will be celebrating his 50th birthday next April. He's a private pilot, and I'd like to do something special for him. Do you know of anyone who offers special rides in vintage planes? Any other ideas?
–Maggie, Syracuse, N.Y.
There are plenty of sky adventures available, and one of the most interesting is by the "lifestyle" company Luxergy (Luxergy.com). Some of its options that might interest you include the following:
Vintage biplane rides are available in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tenn., New York, and Seattle. You have the option of a laid-back, scenic ride or a more daredevil variation. Your husband won't get to fly the plane, but he will have an unusual flying experience.
Another option that might be of interest would be a ride on a fighter plane. The "World War II Warbird Adventure Ride Experience" features aerial stunts like loops, barrel rolls, and even simulated dogfights with just you and the pilot.
Likewise, the "Ace Fighter-Pilot Adventure" offers simulated aerial battles. Though it doesn't require experience, fliers can control the plane at several points alongside a trained pilot.
You may also want to look at specific destinations that interest you so you can see what’s available in those areas. In Napa and Sonoma Valleys, for example, a company called Vintage Aircraft (http://www.vintageaircraft.com) offers open-cockpit biplane rides over wine country, starting at $175 for a 20-minute scenic flight, with additional "acrobatics" for another $50. A little closer to you is a biplane ride over New York’s Hudson Valley in a 1929 New Standard through a company called Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome (http://www.oldrhinebeck.or/biplane_rides.htm); the ride is $65 per person.