Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

The closest you can come to flying a war plane

Ever dreamt of being a World War I flying ace? A period Airdrome aeroplane can make it happen

Published: Oct 11, 2014 06:32:54 AM IST
Updated: Oct 7, 2014 01:34:41 PM IST
The closest you can come to flying a war plane

This summer’s world war I centenary renewed interest in every aspect of that apocalyptic conflict—and aviation buffs can scratch their Great War itch in spectacular fashion with a biplane from Airdrome Aeroplanes, a Holden, Mo company that builds replicas that actually fly. Founder Robert Baslee, who built his first plane as a teenager, started Airdrome in 1989. He has since built nearly 600 kits, including planes for movies such as Flyboys, Amelia and Out of the Burning Blue, and, last year, cleared $600,000 in revenue. The spec sheet:

Altitude and Speed
Up to 12,000 feet; maximum 90 mph

Period Details

The plane can be decorated however you like: Historically accurate insignia, your family crest, Snoopy, a pin-up girl, “over there” lyrics

Of course, albeit non-functional. (Sorry.) Aluminum replica machine guns can, for $125 to $195, be affixed to the front of the plane

Aluminum tubing and synthetic canvas, a substantial upgrade over the wood and canvas used a century ago. Baslee’s biplanes weigh 40% less than the originals, but have the  same horsepower, so they take  off more quickly and glide better

$5,500 to $15,000 for a kit you build yourself; $80,000 if Airdrome crafts it. You can visit the factory to help with  construction for $750 a day

(This story appears in the 17 October, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)