Be it by car up Cadillac Mountain or via the iron rungs of the Beehive Trail, many of Acadia National Park’s 3.5 million annual visitors have the same goal: reach Mount Desert Island’s namesake bald peaks and their sweeping views.
Scenic Flights of Acadia offers a different experience: the chance to see Acadia from 1,000 feet up, its hiking trails reduced to thin lines in a sea of trees, Sand Beach a dash of yellow on the rocky coastline.
For 15 years, Vicki and David Vroom have been given locals and tourists a birds-eye view of the national park’s 40,000-plus acres from the sky. The Vrooms co-own Scenic Flights, located at 1044 Bar Harbor Road at the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport.
From May to mid-October, the company offers six different tours in the company’s three- or five- passenger Cessna 172 or 206 craft over Acadia and Mount Desert Island. Customers can choose a tour based on the view they’d like to see from above: one flight takes in seven different lighthouses, while another heads to Schoodic Point and the Downeast region.
“It’s really the only way to view the whole [park],” Vroom said. “It’s the only way to see all the little islands out there, and there are hundreds. You can get a good view of the large homes and the lighthouses you can’t see from the road.”
While the aerial views of the park are certainly a sell, Vroom said what really makes a flight worthwhile is the whole experience. Entire families can go up together in the company’s five-seater plane, while single passengers and couples can take advantage of the smaller, three-passenger craft.
Vroom said the company often flies newly engaged couples post-proposal. Pilots have even witnessed the actual proposal: some passengers have popped the question mid-flight.
“It’s fun to be a part of something like that,” she said.
Vroom said it’s also a chance for someone who has never been in an airplane before.
“It can be a little bit outside their comfort zone, but they are all glad they did it,” Vroom said. “The kids love it, though the little ones fall asleep a lot from the vibration.”
Pilot Chris Clayton, who has been flying with Scenic Flights for about a month, calls himself a “people person” and said interacting with the customers is one of the best parts of the job. He recently took newly engaged couple on a sunset flight.
“It was a little awkward, I kind of felt like the third wheel, it was very romantic,” the pilot said. “It was my first sunset flight and I could hear them in the back not saying anything, just looking at the sunset. So I was just like I am going to let them enjoy this moment, and I am going to enjoy it too, by myself.”
Clayton said Maine’s scenery makes flying in this state especially worthwhile.
“If you go high enough, you can see every little island out there,” he noted.
Scenic Flights mainly operates during the summer, but the company does stay open year-round and offers some special flights during the fall and winter. Vroom said the view of the foliage from above in the fall is one of her favorite things to see.
“It looks like a colorful carpet laid out, but nothing you would want in your house,” she said.
For more information, call 667-6527, email [email protected] or visit scenicflightsofacadia.com.
Ellsworth American reporter Cameron Chertavian contributed to this story.