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Biplane Ride Near Florence a Joyful Thrill Ride Above Central Oregon Coast

Published 06/17/22 at 4:45 AM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Biplane Ride Near Florence a Joyful Thrillride Above Central Oregon Coast

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(Florence, Oregon) – Up, up in the air, above the central Oregon coast, something yellow and blue is flying past the Heceta Head Lighthouse, around Sea Lion Caves, or maybe over the dunes or around Cape Perpetua. Look close and you'll notice it's an old biplane: World War I-era, open air, engine buzzing overhead with a distinctive sound and a touch of time travel. Did we just go back 100 years, like in 12 Monkeys? (Photos courtesy Tomeny Aereo)

Even more interesting: that could be you up there, zooming around the beaches and rocky chunks of this always-dramatic and pristine chunk of coastline. The ancient ace aircraft up there is a biplane ride-for-hire named Tomeny Aero based out of Florence's airport. A rich experience in all kinds of different ways, it takes you for quite a scenic thrill ride.

The whole aerial enterprise is run by pilot Terry Tomeny and his wife Winette. He takes to the air and she takes care of the customers. A handful of different packages take you up and over parts of this rambunctious chunk of Oregon coast, from the National Dunes Recreation Area just south of Florence all the way up to Yachats and Cape Perpetua, depending on the package. The most popular of them is the Lighthouse run which zooms you over scenic wonders of Old Town, remnants of the burgh's past and looping around the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves area.

All this wonderment is achieved via a 1944 Stearman biplane that was built in 1944.

“The Stearman has a typical past - built in 1944 as an Army Air Corps trainer - sold to a civilian in 1949 when the war was over,” said Terry Tomeny. “Like many of the 9000+ Stearmans built, this airplane went into crop dusting in Central California until it was crashed in 1976. It was then sold and rebuilt to like new condition and flew again in around 1993.”

It made its way to Florence around 1995 when this biz opened up, created by Sam Spayd and run for 21 years until he sold it all to the Tomenys.

The dunes tour takes you southward, over several of the area's lakes, past the Coast Guard station and its historic tales, and there's some surprises here.

The “Just Flying” package is an hour of flight time to just about anywhere you want: farther north up the coastline or as far down as Winchester Bay on the south Oregon coast. See https://www.tomenyaero.com/ for full package information.

As Winette describes it, the thrills are rather exceptional on this aircraft. You're in an open air cockpit, which strangely tends to protect people prone to air sickness, she said. No one needs to ralph on this ride.

Even wilder, since you're in the front seat on this craft, some people actually get to fly the plane at times. Terry can hand them those controls, and those brave enough get to do it. Some get to take over for quite awhile, if they're good at it, Winette said.

What's it like? First, they go out early in the morning, which keeps down on the wind activity; and they pick nicer to days to run.

“It's the most breathtaking adventure you could do,” Winette said. “You get the beautiful Oregon coast, you get the fresh air, and you get the smells because Terry flies low. He flies low in front of the sea lion caves and you can hear them barking.”

Then, there's something called the “Enchanted Valley” just east of Mercer Lake around Florence. She described it as a big, open low valley, where they fly through as well. If it's early in the morning, sometimes there are herds of elk out there.

Then, as he wings around Mercer Lake, Winette said Terry often tells the passengers “And look, there's our house.”

“When he does the dunes package he plays with the people out on the dunes,” Winette said. “He pretends he's a World War I bomber and they get a kick out of it.”

It turns out it's a joyride even for people not in the aircraft. The blue and yellow biplane has also become a welcome sight along this part of the central Oregon coast.

“The biplane is such a piece of Florence now,” Winette said. “Everyone who lives here loves it. They're waving as he flies by, and he waves back with the wing.” https://www.tomenyaero.com/. (541) 991-3579. Oregon Coast Hotels in this area - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


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