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Can physically challenged people fly?

Answer:  Generally, yes.  We will work with you any way we can to share this unique and memorable experience. (from the website of Coastal Air Tours, Sonoma Skypark Airport)

Captain Bob Berwick is proud of his beautifully restored 1926 Travelair bi-plane.

Fortunately he selected Sonoma Skypark as his airfield, 6 minutes from where I live.   I met Captain Bob at the annual Family Fun Day in June.  Spotting him helping an elderly gentleman onto the wing and into the passenger seat, I wondered if he would do the same for people with disabilities.

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I can stand but I can’t walk.  I can’t lift my legs to step into the plane.  Can I get into Old Blue?

I told Captain Bob about incredibleACCESSIBLE.  Without hesitation he said yes, he would take me flying.  It turns out that he knows disability.  His father had MS when Captain Bob was a kid, and Bob was his caregiver.  He understands.

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Captain Bob will work with you any way he can to share this unique and memorable experience.

We took it slow.  Left foot up.  Right foot up.  Wait.  Move the right foot forward.  Pick the right foot up and put it on the seat.  And so forth.  Captain Bob was supporting me while Chip moved my feet around.

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I knew we were going to get me in; Captain Bob wanted me to fly.

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Matthew the mechanic was there to help but also to observe.  These two guys are going to invent something to help get people into the plane.  They don’t have to but they want to.  There is no ADA requirement for 1926 bi-planes to take disabled people flying.

Captain Bob is making up his own rules.

IMG_2604_2We were snug in our seats, our leather helmets in place.  A couple of selfies and we start rolling down the runway to a gentle lift off.

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We’re up!  For 30 minutes we glided over vineyards, mountains, and tiny houses with the incredible view framed between those two beautiful wings, the sky fresh on my face.

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She flies low and slow and shows you the Sonoma Valley more intimately than you ever could see in an enclosed plane.

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I spot familiar landmarks.  The Plaza!

This is beyond incredible.

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Much too soon we circle back to the airport and within minutes we are making a perfect landing.

 Now it’s time to get me out.  Slow step by slow step I make my moves, onto the wing, and down to the ground.   I have just experienced a thrill that I never would have guessed was accessible.

Old Blue is accessible and Captain Bob is incredible.

Coastal Air Tours 685 Denmark Street, Sonoma, CA 415.609.7273 CaptainBob@CoastalAirTours.com

30 minute Wine Country Tour $175…Add a second passenger for $95

Check website for other options: CoastalAirTours.com

Rated: “BEYOND INCREDIBLE”