Gulf Shores Aerial Tour –
I arrive at the Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores, AL and feel immediately at home. There is something about walking around the tarmac that is just familiar. I started my own flight training when I was 15 only to quit when I got my drivers license. With regret, I didn’t stick with it as aviation might have been the fulfilling career I always sought. Although I did finally obtain my private pilots license some 25 years later, for any number of reasons I didn’t stick with it. Might I digress.
I am to meet James, a pilot from Lost Bay Helicopter, for a tour of Alabama’s Gulf Coast. I promise myself I’m not going to throw out the superfluous “I’m a pilot too”. Knowing I’ll only embarrass myself by trying to make a comparison to someone who has made flying their lives work. We weren’t even off the ground before I blurted out my meager flying accomplishments. As to be expected, James didn’t seem particularly impressed but it did make for some lively cockpit conversations. Oh the joy of discussing altimeter settings, flight control systems, traffic patterns, and a little banner plane turf war banter thrown in.
Our tour begins by heading east at 300 feet above Gulf Shores along the coast toward Orange beach. We cross over the Gulf State Park pier and Perdido Key. With Pensacola on the horizon, we turn north at the infamous Flora-Bama bar. James recounts a story of the annual mullet toss that take place there. The visions of participants flinging a dead fish across the Florida and Alabama state line places this event way up on my ever growing bucket list.
After the turn around, we fly over, Ono Island, Bayou St John and Caswell. Our final approach toward runway 27, places us over Bay La Launch and Portage creek. The flight while just over 15 minutes, provided a great view, great conversation and reason to get back this way in April for some much anticipated fish flingin.