Kevin Britt- Biplane Pilot
It is natural for pilots to yearn for flying faster and more complex aircraft. With each step we gain capabilities, get to explore different weather and longer adventures. Sooner or later most of us pay a price for these steps, though, commuting longer distances to work or losing the joy of simple flight.
By 2001, Kevin Britt had reached a crossroads. As an owner of Fly Kauai he had moved up from Cessna 206s to operating a Piper Chieftan. Perhaps there was still a shot at one of those airline jobs, so Kevin took employment in Honolulu, building turbine time in Cessna Caravans and using jumpseats to get back home to Kauai. Alas, after 9-11 the jumpseats disappeared and airlines started laying off pilots, big time. The road ahead didn’t look so good. Kevin took a look over his shoulder and came up with a wild idea.
Years ago his uncle had given Kevin a flight in an open-cockpit biplane, a Meyers with sunburst paint streaming across the wings. With all the helicopter tours on Kauai, wasn’t there room for an open-cockpit biplane tour as well? The right plane would be expensive, he couldn’t do all the flying himself, but what an idea!
Enter Howard Trickey. Howard learned to fly with the Navy in Pensacola, FL. Jets were just coming on board and he managed to get F9F-5s. This led to various jet assignments including combat sorties in F4s out of DaNang. Howard continued flying after the service, first as a civilian test pilot and later for the FAA. He learned of Kevin’s dream and the two talked. In September of 2002 a container with a brand new WACO YMF biplane arrived in Lihue. WACO sent pilot Bobby Wagner along to help with the assembly and then get the two Kauai aviators checked out. The new company's name: Tropical Biplanes.
Kevin flies the biplane on weekdays with Howard taking the weekend shift. There’s a real pleasure for Kevin in seeing the beaming faces of customers at flight’s end. Kauai produced some of Hawaii’s outstanding early aviators, with Charlie Fern and Jimmy Hogg once calling the island home. It is fitting for the music of a radial engine to sometimes drown out the bumble bee drone of helicopters as a red biplane passes overhead. No doubt this addition to the island’s sky would meet the approval of Kauai’s old time aviators.
Check out our Wild Side section for information about Tropical Biplanes.