Ever wanted to run away and join the flying circus? If so, an aerobatic flight could turn your blue-sky thinking into a reality. Ducking and diving between the clouds, performing all kinds of stomach-flipping stunts and leaving a spiralling jetstream behind you is an experience of a lifetime.
It will leave your legs wobbly and your chest full of pride. That being said, if you’ve ever suffered from vertigo or travel sickness, it’s definitely best to stay at home with a cup of tea...
Aerobatic flying has been around since WW1, when pilots quickly realised that some nifty, if risky, moves could help them outsmart their enemies during dogfights. Since then, aerobatics have captured our collective imagination and progressed well beyond military use. Nowadays, even us little people can get a Red Arrow moment, as long as we’re willing to pay for it (and probably sign a scary-looking form).
This means that while you’re out exploring the world, you can, for a matter of minutes, become one of those magnificent men in their flying machines. If your nerves (and your stomach) can handle it, you can loop-the-loop over Los Angeles, nosedive over New Zealand, and barrel-roll over the tropical beaches of the Whitsundays. It might be your one and only chance to be a wingman in the true sense of the word!
Our travel consultants are a daring bunch here at Travel Nation and they’ve tried these jet-shaped shenanigans all across the world. Here’s our own homegrown guide to aerobatics - perhaps it will inspire you to spread your own wings!
Most people think of the Whitsundays as the gateway to the Great Barrier reef, bursting with marvellous marine life and beautiful beaches... Well those same silky beaches look even better upside down from 4,500 ft in the air.
"I was bought the aerobatic flight experience as my 30th birthday present whilst I was in the Whitsundays. It was such an amazing location to fly in a bi-plane, with the turquoise waters below (and every few seconds above) dotted with the islands of the Whitsundays it was a perfect backdrop. The whole experience was quite terrifying, the cockpit was open, I was in the front of the plane, there were all sorts of levers running either side of me that the pilot was pulling to do the acrobatics that I was not to touch and there was the systematically cutting of the engine which freaked me out every few seconds. Not to mention the loop the loops, death dives, corkscrews and other manoeuvres, however it was amazing and I also love every minute of being terrified!" - Sara
The area enjoys a tropical climate with warm winters and the water surrounding the Whitsundays is a welcoming 25'C year round.
Main Terminal, Airlie Beach, Nr Whitsunday Islands.
If, like most people, you've wanted to be Tom Cruise in Top Gun since puberty, you can now make this fantasy a reality. With the dual control training aircraft you can take the reins and feel the power of flight at your fingertips. Buckle up tight though Maverick - the Fighter Jet is capable of reaching speeds a shade over 500mph! Misty-topped Table Mountain will become a huge blur as you rocket overhead. There's specific training on the ejector seat but here's hoping you won't need it.
During the winter months (May - August) there's more of a chance of clouds and flights may be grounded due to inclement weather.
Cape Town International Airport
Barrel rolls, loop the loop, high octane dives and vertical flight manoeuvring are the menu du jour in New Zealand, the adrenaline sports capital. If you've got money left over after the bungee, the skydive, the zorbing and whatever else you've found to throw yourself off, this is the next level of stomach-churning exhilaration. And, you'll be reassured to hear that only 1% of passengers make use of the complimentary sick bags.
Flights are available year round except public holidays. Be aware that low cloud, heavy rain and strong winds can mean that flights are cancelled.
Auckland, New Zealand
*£75 supplement to fly your own stunts if you're brave enough
Maximum weight: 110kgs and maximum height: 6'3" (no wonder Tom Cruise was picked as the lead in Top Gun).
It’s one thing to take the controls for a few minutes, but it's an entirely new thrill to actually perform your own stunts! If you're looking for less of a fleeting thrill and more of a sustained hobby, why not take an introductory aerobatics course in L.A.? You'll learn to do hammerheads, loops and rolls, living out all of your Red Arrows and Top Gun fantasies with aplomb!
Due to LA's stable weather flight training is available year round but is subject to daily conditions.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Roy says: "I was offered the opportunity to do a Tiger Moth flight after I met the owner and pilot at the bungy site in Cairns. I really didn't know what to expect and turned up at the aeroplane hanger not really knowing what was going to happen.
The plane was a stunning propeller plane with only two seats and reminded me of many world war two planes you see in the movies. As the pilot got the engines going the noise was deafening, we took off and my nerves subsided as it started to seem like a steady scenic flight as we made our way out to over the Great Barrier Reef, this was until suddenly the pilot pulled back and we flew at what must have been a 70 degree angle upwards, then to my shock the engines cut out and a barrage of black smoke and silence rushed through all my active senses as we freefell towards the ground. My heart seemed to stop until suddenly the engines kicked back in and we were doing spirals through the sky!
This is a whirlwind experience not to for the fainthearted but I would do it again in a heartbeat!"