There are very few places in the world where you can rent an open-cockpit biplane, let alone fly it solo. This is one of them!
Open-cockpit flying—especially in San Diego—is sheer exhilaration. Nothing else captures the wonder and pride that pioneer aviators felt in the barnstorming days. And the Great Lakes was there! Although this plane was built in ’76, the design dates back to the 1920’s. In fact, the Great Lakes is the oldest aircraft design still in production. 100 years and counting. It’s that good.
Why? Its docile handling characteristics make it easy to learn and an absolute joy to fly. But with four ailerons, a 180 HP engine, and an expansive flight envelope, it’ll also fly aerobatics like a veteran World Champion—because it is one!
The Great Lakes also opens doors. You’ll become part of aviation communities you never knew existed here in San Diego: vintage aircraft groups, aerobatic chapters, formation teams, and more. So whether you want to get to that next level of proficiency, take a VIP on a gorgeous sunset bay tour, or simply hang out with great friends: THIS is your next airplane. Let’s go fly!
Nothing makes you a better stick-and-rudder pilot than flying tailwheel. And learning tailwheel doesn’t have to be scary! The Great Lakes is extremely forgiving and easy to land. Once you’re dialed in, you’ll routinely put it on the runway without even feeling the pavement—she’s that well-designed.
Of course, you can’t get lazy; it is still a tailwheel. But our CFIs collectively have thousands of hours in the Great Lakes and they’ll make sure you become a great tailwheel pilot. The skills you gain will improve every kind of flying you do, from crosswind landings in a 172 to instrument approaches. You’ll feel more confident and more in-command of any airplane.
The Great Lakes was BORN for aerobatics! Many of today’s top airshow pilots got their start in a Great Lakes. It has full inverted fuel and oil systems, G-limits of +5.4/-4.0, and will do far more than most pilots can stand. If you make a mistake, recovery is swift and simple. There are no dark corners of the flight envelope and the plane will do exactly what you tell it to do, without surprises.
All of our aerobatic CFIs are members of IAC (the International Aerobatic Club) and have years of aerobatic competition experience. There’s not a single attitude you can put the Great Lakes into that we haven’t been in many times before. You can be absolutely positive that we have your back.
Do stalls secretly make you a little nervous? Or if you’re a CFI, do your students’ stalls make you a little nervous? Grab one of our aerobatic CFIs and ask for spin training. While every pilot should respect spins, no pilot should ever be intimated by them. We’ll go through the aerodynamics on the ground and then fly a full spin-series until they become just another maneuver—like a steep turn or a lazy eight. You’ll leave a much more confident, complete pilot.
Here’s what flying the Great Lakes is like: