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Biplanes: The worst way to travel

August 06, 2005

Lately I have been wondering what ever happened to the biplane?

In the high tech world that is todays aviation, you can see new planes in all shapes and sizes. They can have a wing on the bottom of the plane, on top, they can come with a jet, come with rotating wings, there's even been several attempts at flying cars.

But the biplane seems to have been left to the dustbin of projects that never really worked out. I was wondering about this one day when I was doing a little river watching. The great thing about river watching is that you can never look at the same river twice. It's always changing. I was staring at the river eating a root beer float when a large group of scantily clad rafters floated by. Most of them were women wearing skimpy bikinis and this is when I started to think about biplanes. It's not some sort of weird disconnect in my brain. In this case it was because just as the bikini flotilla came down the channel, a biplane started flying overhead.

It was flying along, then suddenly banking hard to the left, then hard to the right, then nosing up into the air at the point it stalled, then would nose over and do a spin down to earth before pulling up and flying along a ways, then suddenly go into a loop.

This is when I realized why the biplane died. It has to be one of the worst ways to travel by air. First off, they are very noisy. It was disturbing my river watching. It's hard to monitor my section of the river for safety when a biplane is distracting me from making sure nobody wearing a bikini is in danger.

Think of how impractical a biplane really is. I mean you hop into the plane, it doesn't have a sealed cockpit which means there is no flight attendant with a drinky cart. I doubt there is room for a bag of peanuts and forget the in-flight movie. So then you sit down, the pilot takes off and without warning, the biplane does a barrel roll. I am convinced these planes are incapable of level flight. I never see a guy in a biplane fly more than a minute without having to make loopy loops. Most of them have banners attached to the back and the engines are constantly making smoke. A lot of the pilots have to send someone to walk along the wings while in flight to fix something. It seems you see them flying like this for hours and never get anywhere.

One has to wonder what kind of masochist owns a biplane in the first place. All I can think of is that they made some dying wish to a guy with a name like Reddinbocker to fly the plane on a regular basis to keep the dream alive. An updated equivalent of an Amish man living in the past to keep it working for the future.

Thank goodness they do it and not me. I would hate to have to spend my days flying in a biplane.

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