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Former U.S. Marine takes locals on flight to yesteryear

By Carolina Astrain
March 25, 2013 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated March 24, 2013 at 10:25 p.m.

Painted in a duotone red and white, this 1929 D-25 New Standard Biplane is at the Victoria Regional Airport offering anyone interested in flying in an open cockpit biplane a rare opportunity. Pilot  Mike Carpentiero travels the U.S. doing what he loves the best, flying the open skies.

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Nostalgic Warbird and Biplane Rides

•  WHEN: All day Tuesday and through 3 p.m. Wednesday

• WHERE: Victoria Regional Airport, 609 Foster Field Drive

•  COST: $75 per passenger

•  CONTACT: Mike Carpentiero at 760-641-7335

Tres Burris, 14, grasped the strings of his gray hoodie as they glided off the runway.

The propeller picked up speed and whiffs of gasoline intermingled with the fresh spring air as Mike Carpentiero, 48, former U.S. Marine and U.S. Airways pilot, prepared to take a journey through time.

"It really is a trip into the yesteryear," said Mike Burris, 70, of Victoria, a former Victoria County Airport Commission chairman.

Tres, also of Victoria, admired the red and white 1929 New Standard D-25 Biplane as he was seated next to his grandfather, whose family comes from a long line of airmen.

"This was his first time to ride this type of plane," Burris said. "His dad is also a pilot, and soon he'll start taking flight lessons himself."

Jessica Van Buskirk, 22, also of Victoria, was just along for the ride.

"A friend of mine paid for my ticket," Van Buskirk said.

Carpentiero flew the three over Victoria and outlying farms, pastures and manufacturing plants.

Speckles of residential pools and slow-moving cars appeared from the sides of the two-winged plane as they gained altitude.

Van Buskirk let out a soft roller-coaster yell as Carpentiero dipped the plane a few feet during the ride.

Burris looked on as his grandson admired the quiet view of the city from above.

The sun peeped out through the plane's wings, providing a welcome burst of warmth to the wind-whipped riders.

From heaps of mineral piles and Caterpillar machinery, the spectators got a sample of the city's main industries.

A whistling gust dissipated, and the passengers' ears popped as the biplane returned to the landing strip.

Carpentiero, who sleeps and travels with his plane and English bulldog, Winston, arrived in Victoria on Sunday evening. He said he plans to head to Gonzales on Wednesday.

A pile of woven Mexican blankets, a large sleeping bag, dog food and four buckets of plane oil sat next to his biplane, named Stanley.

There are only seven airplanes like it in the world, said the pilot.

"I like seeing everybody's expression when they get out of the airplane," Carpentiero said. "Big smiles."

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