Air Bayou Tours – ‘Mile High’ or ‘High Mileage’?

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By: Daiyu Tang

Dear reader, before you get to the review score or even the detail of the review, I think it’s important you watch this video, which may give you a hint as to how the Air Bayou Tour experience went. Besides representing the general theme, I find this quite funny. Do watch the whole thing, the song starts about 20 seconds in!

Anyway, now that that you have hopefully got the hint (and perhaps even laughed to the funny lyrics) we can turn to the actual experience with Air Bayou Tours, proprietor and pilot: Vinny Scalaetta.


Meeting Vinny

The owner, operator and pilot of Bayou Air Tours, is one Vinny Scalaetta, a man to whom the FAA appear to have awarded a license despite his rough and ready nature, wandering hands and proclivity for drink (or so it smelt). It should also be noted that despite these apparent negative traits, Vinny also has a degree of good looks and humour about him, which in certain circumstances might make him pleasurable company. However, whether those positives are sufficient for you dear reader to risk your life on his Magnificent Flying Machine is another question.

The logo of Air Bayou, featuring a flying boat evokes feelings of nostalgia. The artwork is inspiring and harks back to what this reporter feels is probably how aviation was sold in the 50s or something. Clean lines, open sky and crisp designs.

With tickets at $100 a pop (starting) it also feels surprisingly affordable.

Arriving at the airfield, or rather the jetty I looked around for staff and found Vinny (as pictured) manning reception. The issue was he acted like he was the receptionist, at no point did he state he was the owner or pilot. Giving me a ‘cloak room’ ticket he invited me to wait in the departure lounge which were some old ratty chairs on the jetty.

I mean ok, one man band… but he then came round a little while later asking for tickets and didn’t recognise me despite me being the only customer he had just spoken to. And he was dressed differently…

It was only after he told me that “we all looked alike” that he deigned to tell me on inquiry that he was also the owner and pilot. I mean right… only customer… and we ‘all look alike’. Maybe the guy has memory issues – does that impact his FAA licensing?!

Fasten Your Seatbelts!

The airplane, or rather seaplane was reached by a gang plank that was not a friend to high heels, in fact the whole area was certainly setup for the more ‘adventure backpacking’ tourist than ‘office professional’. I had thought I should perhaps dress to impress on a flight, but my recommendation to any that book is to turn up in your rough clothes and potentially ones you don’t mind getting wet (if you fall into the Bayou), or possibly crash into it.

“First, safety protocols… in the back of the plane , the door you came in, that’s your emergency exit… in the event of an emergency, you’ll find parachutes stowed under the seats back there. If you pull the chord and sandwiches fly out…. you have my lunch…”

Vinnie

The tour was accompanied by the (AI) voice of Morgan Freeman who provided ‘insightful’ commentary over the sights of the Bayou. As the flight progressed however it appeared that AI Morgan was rather a conspiracy nut.

Here are the tour’s top conspiracy theories, in order of outrageousness. Bear in mind dear reader that I was, at points, in slight fear of my life while hearing AI Freeman discuss the ‘reptilian overlords’. It was rather freaky…

  • “You might catch a glimpse of a UFO darting across the night sky or a shadowy figure lurking beneath the surface.”
  • “The bayou is also home to its very own version of the Loch Ness Monster—the legendary ‘Bayou Bessie’. According to local legend, this massive serpent-like creature lurks beneath the murky waters, surfacing only to snatch unsuspecting prey with its razor-sharp teeth.”
  • “People, rumour has it, helped fake the apollo moon landings”
  • “Could it be that the bayou is a hotspot for extra-terrestrial activity?”
  • “Did you know that the Louisiana bayou has also been linked to global banking conspiracies? Legend has it that hidden somewhere within these murky water lies a treasure trove of lost riches, amassed by shadowy figures with ties to the highest echelons of power.”
  • “Could it be that the bayou is more than just a natural wonderland, but also a key player in a global game of intrigue and deception? If you look closely, you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive reptilian overlords said to lurk in the depths of the bayou. According to conspiracy theorists, these ancient beings have been pulling the strings of human civilization for centuries, manipulating governments and shaping the course of history from the shadows. Are they real, or just the stuff of myth and legend?”

So as we soared through the sky being regaled about conspiracies (and a little about the sights) I asked Vinnie some questions related to his business.

Interview

Observer: “So this is awesome as a business, what made you want to get into it and how many people can tour at once? Also, how about telling me the rarest thing you’ve seen when on tour?”

Vinnie: “I was running dignified returns in Hercules troop transports during the war on terror… I joined the air force when terrorists flew planes into my neighbourhood, figured I could fly death right back at em… I just thought, flying is something I’m good at, and well… I enjoy it up here…. so happy is the man who can make his hobby his job… As for seating, I can take five, with seat belts, but I can squeeze in two or three extra without, but FAA rules say five. So officially five.”

Observer: “And what about the rarest thing?”

Vinnie: “Rarest things I’ve seen? I’ve seen a waitress get to my table in under a minute… but otherwise when I was running dignified returns, you know, flying coffins or parts of soldiers home from the front… we used to hear things… you know, be sitting with your co-pilot on these flights and hear a tapping at the cabin door…. and in your mind, there’s a zombie soldier trying to get in the cockpit, but ya know… that’s your mind for you!”

Observer: “So Five and possibly a few more because otherwise I’d suggest $100 a pop seems cheap… surely fuel is expensive?”

Vinnie: “Fuel, I got a discount. Some old military pals, oh and tax write-offs. Lots of those…”

We spoke a little more about his experience as a pilot and after having a bag of peanuts thrown at me as part of the in-flight service, which involved Vinnie leaving the cockpit to get the peanuts… and leaving me to ‘control’ the plane, I was dear reader, pretty damn nervous.

And that’s when he did a barrel roll. Or well, rather than attempt something that would have probably broken the plane apart, he did subject me to g-force that I was not expecting and I have to say I felt somewhat queasy for the rest of the flight as we headed back towards land.

Take-off – a happier news editor…

A Conclusion

Reader, I wanted to like this tour. I wanted to go up in the air and experience Hathian and LAveau from the skies away from the dirt and decay and for a small part of the tour, putting aside the check-in experience and the pilot who smelt of alcohol I got that. But combined with AI Morgan Freeman making shit up, a lack of proper safety equipment, pranks, an attempt to get me to throw up via g-force and an attempt to hit on me as apparently I looked like a girl ‘good with a stick’… it has to be said that I won’t be returning! If the inflight service and the pilot can be worked on and the Voice-over updated to actually be interesting, then perhaps… but for now this appears to be both a safety risk and, unless you are into slightly jaded, haunted, alcoholic pilots… not a great way to join the Mile High Club either… Prices are good, but besides from that…

2/5 Stars

((For further information contact: Vinny Scalaetta (ashieusernameexists) and LM: HERE))

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