Aerial view of a river, deep blue in color, with several bridges crossing it. On both sides of the river are low-rise buildings. A small snow-covered mountain is in the background

Seeing Tri-Cities from the Sky with a Scenic Flight

Getting a different perspective of where we are isn’t something we do very often. Generally speaking, it isn’t something we do at all unless we seek it out. When we travel, that change of perspective isn’t always easy to find. In April this year, I got the opportunity to take a scenic flight of Pasco and the surrounding area in southern Washington State. One of my bucket list items is to get my pilot license, so carpe diem! I jumped on the opportunity as soon as I could. Disclaimer: my scenic flight was hosted by Bergstrom Aircraft & Visit Tri-Cities; as always, all thoughts and opinions herein are my own.

The scenic flights are offered by Bergstrom Aircraft. They’re a full-service fixed base operator (FBO) and flight school at the Pasco/Tri-Cities airport. Bergstrom Aircraft opened in 1975 has is still family owned and operated.

Two small single-engine propeller planes side by side on the tarmac at an airport.
Cessna planes used for scenic flights and flight lessons, owned by Bergstrom Aircraft.

Interestingly, Pasco Airport opened as a Navy training base during WWII. Bergstrom Aircraft is in the process of restoring the original control tower and turning it into a museum. It was very interesting learning about the history of Pasco. I had no idea it went back so far!

Two airport hangars and a four story air traffic control tower in black and white.
Original control tower of the airport – renovated as Pasco Aviation Museum.

The days leading up to my scenic flight were windy and cloudy. By a stroke of luck, the skies cleared for me. The weather was nearly perfect! I have no doubt that it made for a better experience.

Monte, my scenic flight pilot, was very friendly and knowledgeable about the area. He expertly described what we were able to see out of both sides of the Cessna 180 while he navigated the airways.

An aerial photograph of a snow-capped mountain.
View of Rattlesnake Mountain as seen from the air. The arc in the right side is the edge of the propeller.

After take off we flew west, over the river, with a wonderful view of Rattlesnake Mountain – the highest peak in the region. Some of the other sights we saw were the hydroelectric dam, bridges over the Colombia River, gorges, and wineries that the area is famous for.

An aerial picture of the Columbia River with several bridges spanning it. The sky is hazy but a snow-covered mountain is visible in the background.
Bridges over the Columbia River in Tri-Cities Washington. Pasco is on the right and Kennewick is on the left.

Before I knew it, we started making our approach to land back at the airport. The flight lasted for 30 minutes. Only because I love flying so much, I wish it were longer. We were lucky that we had a parallel approach with an Alaska Airlines Q400 – one of the few commercial flights at the Pasco/Tri-Cities airport.

A picture of a 76-seat passenger propeller plane that is about to land.
Q-400 turboprop on parallel approach to Pasco Airport. Words cannot express how disappointed I am that this is not in focus.

How Much is a Scenic Flight in Tri-Cities?

Currently, scenic flights at $148 for 30 minutes and $295 for 60. Personally, I think that is a very reasonable, if not good, rate. There are several things to consider. That cost covers up to 3 people. Doing the math, it could be as little as $50 per person. The current price is also inline for the cost of plane, pilot and fuel prices.

Even if you don’t find yourself in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State, I encourage you to see wherever you are from the sky. You’ll likely learn something new, see something interesting, but you’ll definitely see things differently. Just Google “scenic flight” and the area of where you’re visiting. I’m sure you’ll like it as much as I did.

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