Every AvGeek needs a bucket list of must do or see activities. To help you kick off or add to your bucket list here are 10 great ideas. Let the dreaming begin……
10 AVIATION BUCKET LIST IDEAS
1/ A Tour of the F-35
My interest in the F-35 started with the announcement by the Australian Government that they had joined the global F-35 partnership. This membership led to an order of 72 F-35A Lightning II fighters.
Whatever your feelings are about the F-35, it is an impressive piece of kit. Having a close up tour of an operational F-35 would be an experience worthy of anyones bucket list. Imagine sitting in the cockpit with all its bells and whistles turned on.
RAAF Base Williamtown is the future home of two squadrons of F-35A’s. It is only 2 hours drive from my house so it must be possible. It has to be possible.
2/ Farnborough International Air Show, UK
There are several of these must do air shows around the world. I have picked Farnborough as its 2016 Flying Program and static display aircraft are fantastic. The Farnborough Air Show has been on my bucket list ever since I had a list.
With the F-35B now demonstrating its Vertical Take Off & Landing capabilities at the Air Show it is unlikely it will ever drop out of the top 10.
3/ The “Mach Loop” in Wales, UK
I had seen photos about this place many times however I never knew where it was, why the planes were so low and whether it was possible for a budding plane spotter to get to this place. the answers when tracked down were fantastic to the eyes
- Located at Machynlleth in Wales the Mach Loop viewing area is a hill-top overlooking a vast countryside. The actual fly zone is a series of hills and valleys covering around 16 miles (26 Km)
- Military aircraft use this region for low-level flight training. Planes can get as low as 250ft (76m) at times and the experience will be mind-blowing.
- The UK Department of Defence actually publishes the times the area will likely see activity. This is not guaranteed of action but it does give you a chance to witness the fighters up ridiculously close.
- Finally, the viewing locations are legal and members of the public can occupy these areas without being arrested. Happy days.
Allow me to show you what it is like when the F-22 and F-15 play at the Mach Loop. I have to go to this place. What about you?
4/ Maho Beach, St. Marten
This is a no brainer.
The sign says it all.
The crystal clear waters of the Caribbean are enough incentive to lure any would be tourist. Add in the legendary Maho Beach in St Martin, a runway from Princess Juliana International Airport and a 747 or two an arm’s length away and you have an AvGeek place to die for.
5/ Udvar Hazy Centre/National Air & Space Museum
The two museums are only 32 miles apart being Washington DC and Virginia. You could not see one without the other. These museums display the whos who of aircraft. Take a look at some of these aircraft:
- SR-71 Blackbird
- Space Shuttle Discovery
- Mercury & Apollo Space Vehicles & the LEM!
- and many more
6/ Learn to Fly a Glider
Not a Pilot?
Why not experience your first flight in a glider. Most glider clubs conduct introduction flights where you get an opportunity take the controls for a reasonable cost. A bonus of learning to fly a Glider is the cost. Roughly speaking it is three to four times more expensive to get your Private Pilots License than a Glider Pilot Licence.
I want to do this. But, I also have a fear of flying in a small aircraft – it is irrational but very real – The fear is winning at this time. Does anyone have any advice for me to get up in a glider?
7/ Take the Boeing Factory Tour
The biggest building in the world!
Is there anything more to say? In my working life I have visited many manufacturing businesses. These businesses had 50 or fewer employees most of the time so the prospect of visiting a factory with over 50,000 employees boggles the mind.
A tour of the Boeing factory includes 747, 767, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner production lines. You may also be lucky to see some activity out on the field.
8/ Attend a Red Bull Air Race
Location, Location Location.
The Red Bull Air Races know how to put on a show. They visit fantastic locations for their races including Hungary, USA, England, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Germany and Austria – what event would you go to?
Like a Formula 1 weekend, the thrill of just being there and soaking up the atmosphere is the big attraction here. The fact that you also watch some great pilots pushing their skills to the limit helps to get this activity on my bucket list.
9/ Visit an Aircraft Boneyard
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base pictured above, is located in Tucson Arizona. You can experience the Boneyard on a tour and there is a museum next door for good measure.
The picture above tells the story. Imagine driving along these rows of stored aircraft of so many shapes and sizes. The sheer size of this place is hard to comprehend until you count one row of aircraft. Trust me, a lot more aircraft are in this picture than you think.
From my count, there are close to 200 fighters in the foreground of this picture. Now take another look at the photo. Do you want to go?
10/ Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel
Photo By: Rah Gardiner
Plane Spotters know the thrill of finding a good vantage point at your local airport to take a few photos. A recent addition to Sydney’s International Airport has added another dimension to the term “good vantage point”. The Rydges Hotel built next to the main runway is a plane spotters paradise.
A large number of rooms in this hotel provide unrestricted views of the airport and its operations. In addition to your room, the hotel offers a roof top open air viewing area providing 180 degree unrestricted views. And finally, a “Plane Spotter Package” is on offer. You receive a room, binoculars and a plane spotters info sheet to make sure you enjoy your stay. What more could you want!
You do not even need to stay in the hotel. Subject to the viewing decks availability you can pay $10 to get access to the viewing deck. Well done Rydges Hotel.
Why don’t you check out your local airport and its hotels? You just might find an opportunity of a life time.
If the above 10 ideas did not hit the spot a short list of honorable mentions may do the trick.
- Aerobatic Flight with Matt Hall Racing
- Jet Fighter Ride. The closest to me is an L-29 Albatross
- An Airport behind the scenes tour – There are many tours all around the world
- A WW2 War Bird flight
- Witness a space launch. The space shuttle launch should have been on everyone’s bucket list. Now in retirement this dream can move onto any rocket launch.
A bucket list is dynamic, with activities added and removed as time passes. I would be interested in your bucket list suggestions. The more the merrier.