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Who knew that all this time, mile-high clubbers, instead of furtively knocking boots in the cramped bathroom of a commercial airliner, could have been knocking boots in style, in the judgment-free confines of a Flamingo Air private plane, one of Cincinnati's best-kept open secrets.
Founded a couple decades ago after a group of pilots at Cincinnati's Lunken Airport challenged one of their number that he couldn't get a couple to pay for mile-high privileges, Flamingo Air plays up the romance angle, offering couples, for $425 (plus taxes and fees), a one-hour flight on their private, curtained aircraft, which they can use to "join the club," or just slap one another silly, or whatever. It's their dime. (Chocolates and champagne are included too.)
"Captain" Dave MacDonald is co-president of Flamingo Air, along with wife Sharon McGee. Reflecting on his years as a mile-high-club pilot, he says, "I have had a high heel in my ear once, been shot in the back of the head with a champagne cork, and thank God we wear headsets." McDonald assures potential trysters that, hey, what you do is your business:
"What goes on behind the curtain is no concern of ours. It is a matter of professionalism; our customers expect that. If I ever wrote a book it would be great."
McGee claims Flamingo Air is the only business in the U.S. that runs these kinds of flights, and says they have sent out their ol' Cherokee Six for as many as eight flights in one day. McGee also says that "probably ninety percent of these [flights] that are booked, are booked by women. Sometimes they are trying to put a spark in their relationship, some are trying to save their marriage."
Alas, not all rocky relationships could be saved by Flamingo; at least five men have refused flights booked by their wives, and all those marriages have ended in divorce. But on a brighter note, one couple did conceive a child aboard the plane. You'd better make reservations now; Valentine's Day is only 360-odd days away.