McLaren Vale & Onkaparinga Blog

Find out the best of what our destination has to offer.

Adventure In The Skies – From Coast To McLaren Vale Vines

Want to see the region from a different perspective? Take it all in from the air! At the Aldinga Airfield you can take a scenic flight over the southern beaches with views stretching all the way to Kangaroo Island. 

Martyn and Gaylene Smith of Adelaide Biplanes say the geography is stunning from above. “We’ve got the ocean on one side and the hills on the other,” Martyn says. “And of course there are the vineyards.”

Several aircraft are waiting to take you on an experience of a lifetime. Whether it’s a one or two person scenic flight or something to get the adrenalin pumping (involving aerobatics), Adelaide Biplanes does it all.

“Our flights are very much tailored towards what the passenger wants. Often people are full of bravado until they start climbing into the seat, donning the leather helmet and belting up,” Martyn says.

The planes are known for their personalities.

The Waco Classic is the “Marilyn Monroe” of biplanes. Think 1930s nostalgia, class and elegance. “She is one of only a few biplanes where you can fly two people together in the front open cockpit, hip to hip, wearing leather helmets,” Gaylene says.

The Great Lakes open cockpit biplane holds only one passenger. She is capable of aerobatics and, if you wish, your pilot can fly you upside-down along the coast. “Add in a barrel roll, loop, hammerhead or clover… you decide,” Gaylene says. “You can literally hang out down south! This one is like a French tart: all stockings and suspenders. It’s very sassy and exudes that look-at-me attitude.”

The 1942 South Australian Tiger Moth is an “iconic old lady”. This is history right here; young students learnt to fly in her during World War II.

The 1942 Boeing Stearman was used for US Navy training during the war years. “She’s similar to the big Waco with a purring radial engine,” Gaylene says. “Her personality is more Shirley Bassey; a bit more raunchy.” 

Looking to take it one step further and jump out of a plane? Mark Pincombe, chief instructor and owner of Skydive the Southern Vines, allows skydivers to see the south from a whole new perspective. “The patchwork of vines is amazing and the coastal views are absolutely breathtaking,” he says. “As you descend over the rugged coastline, you can see from Outer Harbor (northern Adelaide) to Kangaroo Island, Goolwa and The Coorong.” Once the parachute opens you have up to six minutes to take in the views as you glide over the coast and vines. You can even take control of the parachute, steering it towards where friends and family will be waiting at a local winery with a tasting plate and glass of wine. You must be at least 12 years of age to jump.

Paul Beck, base helicopter pilot in McLaren Vale and co-owner of Helivista, offers coastal scenic flights and winery tours. “We also have exclusive access to a private beach for those seeking something a little more private – perfect for a proposal or anniversary surprise,” Paul says. Or experience a wine tour of a different kind and be flown to wineries for tastings or lunch.  Each flight is met with a stunning vista from the two-person helicopter bubble cockpit. “What I enjoy most is the views along the coast and the ever-changing landscapes,” Paul says. “As the vines change colour, it’s incredible to watch the different seasons flourish.” Helivista operates from major wineries and accommodation facilities in the region.

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