An Original Way to Fly over Clearwater Beach
Some call it a Trike or Delta Wing, and the FAA calls it a Weight-Shift-Control aircraft, but as I flew 600 feet above Clearwater Beach in one, I couldn’t help but think I was sitting inside a large bumblebee. And I wasn’t sure how it could actually fly.
With a wing that makes it look like a hang glider and an engine and propeller behind a puny cockpit, the Revo Trike can indeed fly, and it happens to be a major tourist attraction in Clearwater, Fla., where they call it Sky Surfing. Dane Hauser has been giving tours and pilot lessons aboard his Revo for six years there, and he’s been flying a Trike since 1994.
I had to accept the invitation to fly with Hauser and it made for a memorable hour-long aerial tour of the area’s beaches and islands. While it may seem like a daredevil’s activity because you’re so exposed in this aircraft, it’s safe enough to fly small children, and Hauser says even riders who are scared of heights enjoy it. You’re actually encouraged to steer the aircraft while in flight, and I did so for several minutes with guidance from Hauser. (I learned you want to use a soft touch sending the Trike left or right — the controls are sensitive.)
From 600 feet above the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: Greg Keraghosian)
As spectacular as the views were, I also got a kick out of just looking at the Revo from inside and sticking my arms out like a gleeful kid. While it may look like a toy, the aircraft is sturdy and has more range than you think – Hauser says he flew from Clearwater to Chicago in his.
”I kind of get bored when I get in a plane now,” Hauser said. “It feels like getting into a minivan.”
The tours begin at Clearwater Airpark, and after a quick takeoff, within minutes we were flying over Clearwater Beach, sunlight reflecting off both the Gulf water and the white sand. We also looked down on Caladesi Island State Park and Honeymoon Island State Park, as well as some posh beachside houses —Hauser pointed out Hulk Hogan’s house below us.
Below is Clearwater Beach (Photo: Greg Keraghosian)
On many days you can also spot marine life such as dolphins from the 600-foot altitude, although on this day the strong winds left the water too murky to get a clear view.
There’s no age limit to fly with Hauser, although there is a weight limit of 250 pounds. Even though it was an 80-degree day, I still wore a windbreaker and I’m glad I did – it gets chilly up there.
The Trike’s controls. (Photo: Sky-Surfing.com)
One downside of the experience is that you won’t be able to take photos from your seat because of the strong wind in your face. But you can ask Hauser to attach your GoPro camera to the wing, as I did, to document the experience.
Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad.
Learn more about our travel policy.