The real “mile high” club

Cincinnati’s Flamingo Air takes the deed to new heights

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: Sharon McGee, presdient of Airline Ground Schools, a division of Flamingo Air, and her husband, Captain Dave MacDonald

Flamingo Air is a tiny little airline and “flightseeing” operation out of Cincinnati. Flying out of Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, it offers short tours by air of the downtown Cincinnati area all the way up to King’s Island. However, this story is not about these innocent flights to see the city, but instead, another service offered by Flamingo Air.

Billed as their “Flight of Fancy,” Flamingo offers an interesting gift idea for couples who wish to get their freak on up in the troposphere.

Captain Dave MacDonald, Flamingo Air’s pilot, explained:

“For a mere $425 per couple, you get one hour in a private, curtained-off aircraft. You get champagne, chocolates, souvenirs and, of course, a very discreet pilot. Most people don’t need more than two minutes, but the flight’s for one hour.”

What does it look like inside the cabin?

I mean, it’s cute as the dickens. We take out the whole center row of seats, and that’s all filled with big, fluffy cushions. – Dave MacDonald

I’m sure you’ve seen some crazy things up there.

Yeah, I have. I take that back; no, I haven’t. – DM

No, of course not.

Because there is a very heavy curtain that separates the passenger cabin from the cockpit. We wear headsets, so I mean you could have a herd of goats back there and we wouldn’t know it, unless there’s a screamer on board. Then you can usually hear what’s going on.

But, the only time I ever saw anything that was going on is, on a rare occasion, they’ll tear the curtain down. But, what’ll probably really surprise you is this is strictly a female market. We’ve been doing this since 1991. We’ve done thousands of flights, and, to date, I’ll bet we’ve had less than a dozen that were ever booked by men. I mean, it’s that blatant. It’s strictly a female market, and you know, it makes all the sense in the world. I mean, let’s be honest, the lady usually decides when, where and under what circumstances. So, you’d better really know your partner, because these are non-refundable. So, if the guy books this and she says, “Nah, baby, no,” well, then he’s got an expensive airplane ride on his hands. But if she books it, I mean, what kind of a moron is gonna turn this gal down? I know of four that did – three of which resulted in a divorce. – DM

Wow.

So, I guarantee, for the guys that may be reading this, if your lady presents this to you, you’d better think long and hard before you turn her down. – DM

That’s hysterical.

We’ve had a few interesting encounters, I’ve had a high-heel pushed towards my ear. I’ve had a champagne cork pound me in the head from behind the curtain. Of course, we’ve had the occasional screamer, and sometimes a head would pop through the curtain, in rhythm to the thrusting [laughs]. Those are just kinda funny, weird things that can and do happen. Normally, what goes on behind the curtain? We have no idea. – DM

How often do you have these flights? Is it everyday?

Yeah, yeah. We probably do three or four a week. As we get close to the big holidays, like Valentine’s Day, oh my god. We’ll be booking eight to 10 a day, so it gets real hectic around that time of the year. – DM

What are some of the more outlandish requests that you’ve received?

[Laughs] Well, let me see … We had a young lady who was giving her husband a birthday present. Total surprise to the man. Well, we started getting a little concerned by all the stuff she was bringing. I mean, like, in addition to a birthday cake with a picture of the airport on it, she had balloons, she had presents, she had rose petals strewn around the airplane. I said, “Oh my god, if she shows up with a wet bar, we’re in trouble here. It just won’t work.” Anyway, they came out and had their flight and, by golly, if I didn’t see her the next spring at the airport pushing a baby carriage, and I looked at her and she looked at me and said, “Yeah, and we named her Amelia,” that’s the name of our airplane, by the way. Amelia, the Bahama Mama. So that’s a cute story. – DM

That’s awesome. I heard you had a strict rule of no more than two passengers at a time, is that right?

Not necessarily. [Laughs] We’ve had requests for a third party, and we’ve had requests for two couples. We can actually handle that, but you see, FAA regulations call that passengers must be strapped into a seat during takeoff and landing. Well, we take the center row of seats out. So, that pretty much eliminates four people. We can put a third up front, and when we’re airborne, they can go in the back. – DM

Are the flights open to same-sex couples, or is it only for male/female couples?

We are gender-friendly. We’ve done several same-sex flights. – DM

What area do you fly around? Or is it different every time?

No, we have a set pattern that we pretty much stick to. It leaves out of London Airport in Cincinnati, and we’ll take kind of a scenic flight all the way around the downtown Cincinnati area, then we’ll go up north, we’ll make a turn at King’s Island, go all the way down to the dam and the river and then kind of meander back up the river. It’s a beautiful flight, it really is, but nobody’s ever looking out the window. – DM

For more information about Flamingo Air and the Flights of Fancy program, please call 513.321.7465 or visit FlamingoAir.net.

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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