One Tank Trip

One Tank Trip: Fall Foliage Tours

BERN TWP., Pa. - You can boast about the beauty when it's deserving. We've done a lot of leaf-peeping in Pennsylvania, but none quite like this. In a Piper Arrow, a four-seater, you can see the changing of the leaves from above at about 1,000 feet.

Our pilot, Thorne Harkin, has been flying since he was 12. He had his pilot's license before his driver's license.

"It's not like work," he said. "I don't mind going to work. It's a lot of fun. There is no view like it."

The flight is part of the Fall Foliage Tours offered at the Reading Air School of Flight in Bern Township, Berks County.  Flights are offered year-round, but this time of year, the views are pretty spectacular.

For $99, and $20 more if you want to bring someone along, you'll get a 15-minute tour around Berks with little traffic. 

"It's easier up there," Harkin said. "That sounds kind of funny, but it's smooth and it's kind of a nice place to go every day."

You'll see what he means. It is peaceful. Even with the constant hum in the cabin, when you're up in the air, there really is nothing else to do but take it all in.

The fall foliage season in Pennsylvania is the longest in the world. The state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources points to Pennsylvania's latitudinal location as key to its autumnal activity.

From sea-level to coastal plain, there are 134 species of trees, even more shrubs and vines showing off a little before winter sets in.

Flying over Reading, Harkin pointed out the William Penn Memorial Fire Tower atop Mount Penn and then Ontelaunee Lake and over to Hamburg.

"There's the Pinnacle right there along the Appalachian Trail that's very pretty now," Harkin aid. "People don't realize it, but you can do that very quickly in an airplane. They say to me, 'We're in Hamburg already? Oh my goodness!' and it takes a matter of two to three minutes to get there."

As you enjoy the scenery, Harkin will let you take over for awhile. Since the Arrow is used for training folks who want to learn how to fly, there's a set of controls on your side. The time away might give you a new perspective, a new dream, so that next time you'll take it up on your own.


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