Fly Like it’s 1929!
Millions of visitors flock to the Smoky Mountains yearly for relaxation, adventure, and memory-making moments. One of your best memories is waiting to happen, and it’s at Sky High Air Tours in Sevierville, TN! You and another passenger can fly high above downtown Sevierville and beyond. For eight minutes or more, you can take in bird’s-eye-views from a vintage 1927 open-cockpit biplane!
This exclusive opportunity for vintage airplane flights in the Smoky Mountain area is only available with Sky High Air Tours. A helicopter tour in Sevierville is a remarkable thing to do in the Smoky Mountains, although, with Sky High Air Tours, you can take a trip back to yesteryear and experience the nostalgia and romance of the skies. Piloted by a modern-day barnstormer, the flights reveal panoramic views of downtown Sevierville, the Smoky Mountains, and Douglas Lake.
Sky High Air Tours offers three packages as well as custom flights. Headsets are provided; leather helmets, goggles, and silk scarves are optional. At Sky High Air Tours, you can fly like it’s 1929!
What is a Barnstormer?
Barnstormers were stunt pilots that entertained and impressed spectators with their daring skills and thrilling tricks. They rose to fame during the Roaring Twenties. Perhaps the most famous barnstormer to date is Charles Lindbergh. The United States manufactured biplanes during World War I to train military aviators. After the war, the surplus was sold off and a wave of servicemen took to the skies showing off their aerial talents.
Also, during this time there were minimal aviation regulations. Barnstormers often found themselves smuggling goods including moonshine and alcohol during the prohibition era, carrying mail, transporting passengers, and competing in dangerous aerial events. The daring pilots dabbled in many, or all, of these legal and illegal operations until the United States government imposed a series of regulations. By the mid to late twenties, the enthusiasm surrounding barnstorming had dissipated.
One hundred years later, local barnstormer Marc Hightower takes to the Smoky Mountain skies with his 1927 Waco Model 10 Straightwing airplane. Marc is the owner and operator of Sky High Air Tours in Sevierville, TN. This modern-day barnstormer celebrates the history and nostalgia of the bygone era while safely entertaining passengers with smooth flights. His open-air cockpit will thrill you, although the rides are much less daring than those of a century ago.
Your Sky High Air Tours Pilot, Marc Hightower
Marc grew up surfing in California and has traveled the globe during his adventurous life. He holds a 100-ton Coast Guard Captain’s license; however, he developed an interest in flying after reading a book about barnstormers. The book inspired Marc to purchase a biplane and now this boat captain takes to the skies!
“Having been a boat captain, flying came naturally,” Marc explained. “A captain already has a lot of the basic skills needed to learn to fly, such as navigation, weather, and an understanding of drift. A boat is in constant motion until docked, and an airplane is the same.”
After purchasing the vintage biplane, Marc spent three and a half years restoring it for flight. He is a certified aircraft mechanic and holds two FAA licenses: a commercial pilot’s license and a mechanic’s license. He is extremely thorough and particular about his work. The pilot inspects his plane every morning, and then also completes a pre-flight inspection before each tour. He also performs an inspection during his off-season and makes repairs as needed. Marc meticulously keeps his airplane in perfect condition.
“Passenger safety is above everything else,” Marc stated.
Flying with Marc
Your time spent with Marc as your pilot will be unforgettable. He is a treasure trove of history and knowledge, and you’ll be fascinated with his beautiful and lovingly restored vintage plane. Marc has been flying for twenty-two years. Twelve of those years have been spent here in the Smoky Mountains as the owner of Sky High Air Tours. He is knowledgeable about the unique Smoky Mountain landscape and is informative during his flights.
When asked about his most memorable flight tour, Marc had a heartwarming story to share.
“Jules Bernard was a volunteer at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation, and he went flying with me. He took his first biplane ride in a Waco Model 10 in 1932, when he was thirteen years old. I believe he was ninety-two when I took him flying. He was so excited and said he felt like he was thirteen again,” Marc recalled. “One of the best things about what I do is making someone happy and giving them an experience that they would otherwise be unable to do.”
The Open-Cockpit Biplane
In 1927, nearly half of the small aircraft purchases were Waco planes. This award-winning design delighted pilots then, and today is still delighting passengers with flights over the Smoky Mountain area. In 1939, the plane had been hidden away by its original owner in a Wisconsin barn. It aged gracefully and was restored in the 1980s by renowned restorer Dale Crites. After a series of private owners, the plane now calls Sevierville home.
The complete ground-up restoration brought the 1927 aircraft back to like-new condition. Since then, the aircraft has seen many upgrades to bring it up to modern standards. This 1927 Waco Model 10 is FAA certified. It can fly at speeds up to ninety miles per hour.
There are now thirty-six Waco Model 10s registered in the United States and only a third of them are still flying. A trip with Sky High Air Tours is a rare opportunity to experience history first-hand. This time machine will transport you back to the Golden Age of aviation! Don’t miss out on seeing and feeling this piece of history as it flies through the skies of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Smoky Mountain area.
Sky High Air Tours Flight Packages
There are three packages to choose from. “Flight One” includes an eight-minute flight over downtown Sevierville. You’ll see the historic Sevier County Courthouse and other landmarks against the backdrop of the Smoky Mountains. An overhead view of the charming town will leave you with a new sense of admiration for Dolly Parton’s hometown. As you search for helicopter rides in Sevierville, consider an unforgettable tour in this vintage biplane.
For a tour that includes downtown Sevierville and even more scenic views, select “Flight Two”. Like helicopter rides in Pigeon Forge, this tour flies over the Parkway and includes more scenic views of the rivers and landscape of the Smoky Mountain foothills. This trip also provides aerial views of Dollywood. The total airtime is fifteen minutes.
“Flight Three” is a thirty-minute flight that is comparable to other Smoky Mountain helicopter tours, although you’ll be experiencing the views from the open-air cockpit of this vintage aircraft. This tour covers downtown Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Dollywood, and nearby Douglas Lake. This tour is recommended for those who want a longer flight and more photo opportunities.
Speaking of photo opportunities, bring an SD card for Marc’s GoPro camera and he can record your flight. The video footage from your flight will be the most amazing souvenir from your trip to the Smoky Mountains!
View the packages here and call Marc at 865-742-2359 to schedule your tour. Depending on your wants and needs, a tour with Sky High Air Tours may be more affordable and enjoyable than traditional helicopter tours in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Sevierville.
More About Sky High Air Tours
This vintage biplane accommodates up to two passengers. Sky High Air Tours offers flights for all ages. Marc has flown passengers as young as one and a half years old. If your child can sit in the seat and wear a seat belt, they can fly. Children cannot sit on a lap; they must be strapped to the seat next to an adult. There is no age limit; Marc recently flew a ninety-four-year-old passenger. This family-friendly Sevierville attraction is one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains!
There are weight restrictions. The total for two passengers must be less than four hundred pounds. To properly balance the plane, a passenger must weigh less than three hundred pounds. In a biplane, the pilot sits behind the passengers. This helps to balance the plane, but it also gives you a fabulous view as you enjoy your tour.
The pricing includes one or two passengers. This is an exceptional deal for this rare and unforgettable experience! You will depart from the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport, which is located in Sevierville. Weather is a major factor in availability. Marc is extremely cautious and will gladly reschedule your tour if the weather disrupts your reservation. Guests do not need to pay upfront; flights are paid for after your experience.
Stay updated on Sky High Air Tours by following them on Facebook.
Your Day in Sevierville: in Air and on Ground
Reserve your Sky High Air Tours flight by calling 865-742-2359. You’ll speak directly with Marc and he will gladly answer any questions as you plan your tour. Flights are available from May through October.
Before or after your flight, grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Sevierville and relish the fact that you saw the town from such a unique perspective. Discover incredible Sevierville restaurants here. While you’re downtown, snap a photo with the famous Dolly Parton statue and enjoy a leisurely self-guided walk with a Downtown Sevierville Walking Tours Map. There are unlimited things to do in Sevierville, TN! Your day in Sevierville will be one you’ll never forget, especially when it includes time in the sky with Sky High Air Tours.
Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton