Thursday, September 27, 2012

Piper Cherokee Six: Want to join the mile high club? New Michigan business offers chance to fulfill aerial fantasies

References of the “mile high club” usually involve commercial flights, the risk of getting caught, and cramped airline lavatories.

Traverse City pilot Scott Conaway offers a more intimate way to gain membership into the exclusive club.

“As a pilot, you always want to be able to join the mile high club, so I was trying to come up with a safe way to do it,” he said.

Conaway, 45, offers scenic air tours on his Piper Cherokee Six aircraft. The idea for special “mile high club” flights started off as a joke, but he did some research, saw that other businesses offer similar services throughout the country, and he decided to go for it.

He removed the rear seats of the plane and added a bed complete with red sheets. A privacy curtain separates the cockpit from the passenger area. He'll even make sure there are chocolates, flowers or other romantic treats available on board. He's still researching whether he can serve champagne.

“Once we are in the air and level above 5,280 feet, you can continue to enjoy the views or you will be free to move around the cabin as you please,” the website reads.  

One-hour flights start at $390 and include a certificate of membership to commemorate the event.

Discretion and safety are Conaway’s top priorities.

“I want to participate in it in no way, shape or form,” he added. “I’m there to fly an airplane, nothing else.”

Conaway said he was given an introductory flight lesson for a birthday present and hasn’t looked back. He’s been flying for more than seven years and has logged about 1,600 hours of flight time.

The Traverse City area and the shores of Lake Michigan provide a picturesque backdrop for scenic flights.

“Just flying up here I’m always in awe, I’m always stunned, so I thought it was the best place to do it,” he said.

When asked if he’s a card-carrying member, Conaway bashfully paused before answering in the affirmative.

“How could I not be?” he joked.

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