– About –
From the founder:
I was five years old when I took my first plane ride. I remember that like it was last year, but it was actually in 1959. I thought that was just the coolest thing in the world and couldn’t wait to be old enough to be a pilot. I worked in a gas station pumping gas (that was long before self serve) earning money for flying lessons when I was a teenager. When I was 18 years old I had obtained my commercial pilot license, instrument, multi engine, and flight instructor ratings. I was teaching people how to fly at 18 years old, began flying charters and cargo for a part 135 operator, then did corporate flying for the next few decades. With aviation being such a big part of my life, I had the desire to share my passion for flying with others and to use my skills as an aviator to serve God and the community. In March 2004 Classic Biplane Tours was established, conducting 375 flights the first season, far exceeding our expectations. I have been a volunteer missionary pilot at Agape Flights, based in Venice FL. For the past 10 years. We fly critical need supplies to missionaries in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Cuba, utilizing an Embraer twin turboprop aircraft. We also do disaster relief flights following hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. Classic Biplane tours has made it possible to support local charities with fundraising, entertainment for special needs people, to support my missionary work in the Caribbean countries, and to just provide the best experience possible for our customers. We have flown over 15,000 passengers in our Waco YMF-5 aircraft. I am most grateful to the team that has assisted me over the years. My son CJ, and Curt Rausch who have been auxiliary pilots, and Billy Ladd who has relentlessly maintained this aircraft in a meticulous manner. There is no substitute for high quality maintenance, and I'm proud to say we have a perfect safety record, and have had a minuscule amount of “no go” flights due to maintenance issues.
For C.J. the love of flying is generational. Since he is Steve’s son he has literally been flying all of his life. He holds type ratings in several different jet types and is a pilot for a major airline. C.J. looks forward to stepping out of the jets and flying “real” airplanes, like the big red Waco and taking you on a Barnstorming adventure over the beautiful city of Louisville.
Billy, a licensed aircraft and power plant mechanic with Inspection Authority (IA), has spent a full career in aircraft maintenance. He is an authority on radial engines, having worked on many different models of the multi-row radials in the military. He spent 35 years in mechanic work for commercial airlines including Delta, Air Transport International, and Fed Ex. Don’t be surprised if you see Billy walking around the plane wiping little spots of dirt and oil off as you’re boarding.