Wheels Up, Southwest Florida Scenic Flight Tour

Earlier this month I had the chance to go on a private scenic flight tour of Southwest Florida. This was my first ever flight tour. In fact it was my introduction to flying in a small airplane. I was nervous beforehand and initially upon take off, but my nerves quickly calmed as all the scenic views presented themselves.

Captiva Island and Buck Key Preserve

The car bridge from Sanibel to Captiva Island and Buck Eye Preserve. That blue gulf water!

The tour originated and ended at Punta Gorda Airport (PGD). I checked another airport off the list score! We went up on a recent early April morning to blue skies and light winds. Ideal conditions to be sure. There was a little turbulence over land, but while we were over the gulf, harbor and other large bodies of water, I just sat back and enjoyed the calm ride.

Punta Gorda, Florida

Just after take off the heart of Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor lay off in the distance.

Immediately after takeoff you could see the heart of Punta Gorda off in the distance as we turned and began the journey south.

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park in Punta Gorda, Florida

The marsh, wildlife and beauty of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park in Punta Gorda, Florida

Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, the third largest Florida state park.

The beginning of the route took us past Burnt Store Harbor. Pine Island, Matlacha and down to Sanibel awaited next. Cape Coral and Ft. Myers sat to the east on the pilot’s side of the plane. I was glad to see Charlotte Harbor, the Gulf of Mexico and countless islands and beaches on mine.

Burnt Store Marina, Southwest Florida

Looking down at the expansive Burnt Store Marina, the biggest marina on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Burnt Store Marina, Southwest Florida

Burnt Store Marina, a boaters paradise between Punta Gorda and Cape Coral.

I’ll let the photos and their captions tell a lot of the story. Well without further ado.

Charlotte Harbor, Florida

Out over the open Charlotte Harbor waters.

Southwest Florida scenic flight tour

Southwest Florida scenic flight tour is what was on the agenda for this day.

Matlacha, Florida, Pine Island beyond

Matlacha Island, sitting between the heart of Pine Island and the Florida mainland.

Matlacha Island, colorful shops and seafood shops.

Hello Matlacha Island and your wonderful seafood eateries and colorful shops.

St. James City in Southwest Florida

St. James City located on the southern end of Pine Island. Random if you are into blue crab, visit Island Crab Company. Take home some that are still moving, as they were captured that day.

Pine Island near Bokeelia, Florida

The top of Pine Island and the town of Bokeelia, the largest island on Florida’s west coast.

Heart of Pine Island, Florida

The middle of Pine Island. Pine Island Sound awaits on the other side.

Cape Coral, Florida

Looking off to the east and a residential heavy part of Cape Coral.

Once we reached Sanibel it was time to make a 180 degree turn and start heading north. We’d now be flying over the Gulf of Mexico alongside the rest of Sanibel, up-to Captiva, Boca Grande and beyond.

Northern part of Sanbiel Island, Florida.

The northern part of Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach is below. Flying over the Gulf of Mexico!

Bowman's Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida

Zooming in on Bowman’s Beach. Golf courses, Gulf coast homes and waterways everywhere you look.

Bridge connecting Sanibel Island and Captiva Island

Captiva Island is the furthest north you can get by car in this Southwest Florida island chain.

North Captiva Island and Captiva, Pine Island Sound sits beyond, Florida

Hurricane Charley blew out the bridge between Captiva and North Captiva Island. They never rebuilt.

North Captiva Island, Southwest Florida

You can get to North Captiva Island by boat and plane. See the thin grass strip runway?!

Grassy runway, North Captiva Island, Florida

North Captiva Island. Who wants to land their plane here?!

Cayo Costa Island, Florida along Gulf of Mexico.

The beach and state park of Cayo Costa along the Gulf of Mexico only accessible by charter boat.

Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande, Florida

The southern end of Gasparilla Island State Park, part of Boca Grande. You can reach by car via the Boca Grande Swing Bridge.

Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande, Florida

The heart of Gasparilla Island separated from the Florida mainland by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound.

It was amazing to see a lot of the same places I’d been to on foot from a different perspective. I loved seeing all the greens and blues of the water and how quickly it transitions from one color to another. The pilot was very thorough both pre-flight and while in the air. It helped put my mind at ease. He pointed out spots of interest with lots of stories to go with along the way.

Aaron, the elATLboy, the Southwest Florida explorer by air.

Hello Everyone! It’s Aaron, the Southwest Florida explorer by air.

Oddly enough I experienced my first helicopter ride in Florida as well. I have found the Sunshine State to not be a bad place to take in the views airborne. ☀☀☀

The trip did not end at Boca Grande. Stay tuned as I will soon do a follow-up post covering the rest of my Southwest Florida scenic flight tour. More views await.

Have you ever been on a scenic flight tour? In Florida?

8 responses to “Wheels Up, Southwest Florida Scenic Flight Tour

  1. My Geography Lessons

    Looks like you had a great day for the tour. You captured some awesome shots.

    • Aaron - elATLboy

      Thank you Steven, glad you like! We looked at the wind and weather hour-by-hour. It could not have been a more perfect day both for pictures and for beng up in the air 🙂

  2. I saw your photos on social media and this is something I would LOVE to do!! How ‘jetting around’ friendly, huh? Too bad about the initial turbulence (happens in small planes), but I’m glad the rest of the flight went smoothly and you got to enjoy yourself! I guess I didn’t realize the beauty of Florida… must see it from above.

    • Aaron - elATLboy

      Very Jetting Around friendly indeed? Seeing all the beaches, islands and Gulf from above is something. Imagine the Atlantic ocean side is just as scenic. Need to try that sometime! Can’t imagine how beautiful it would be to capture Paris that way if that is possible. 🙂

  3. Great captures! Glad you enjoyed the flight. Small airplanes are so much fun. Hope you get to do that again. 😊

    • Aaron - elATLboy

      Thanks Irene! I was a little nervous beforehand, but it was an absolute blast once up in the air. I hope so too! 🙂

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