Nighttime lights flight. (P&N Flight photo)

If there’s someone on your Christmas list who’s next-to-impossible to buy for, you might consider the splurge of booking them a private nighttime flight over eastern Iowa to see the twinkling holiday lights from above.

Matt Reed is a pilot and flight instructor who flies a 1969 Piper Cherokee out of the Clinton Municipal Airport. “We’re offering what we call a Christmas Light Tour,” Reed says. “It’s about a 45-minute flight. We take off right at dusk, right before dark, and we fly over the cities of Clinton, Camanche, Fulton and the Symphony of Lights, and give a different perspective on what the Christmas lights look like from the air.”

Reed says many of his passengers bring along phones, cameras or video cameras to capture the entire experience.”You can do all the above,” Reed says. “We encourage people take video, pictures, try to keep those memories and share with people.” The single-engine Piper can carry the pilot and three passengers, and the special flights are $160 each, whether it’s one or three guests.

Not everyone has been up in a small plane before, and some passengers need a little encouragement. “I get several people that are very nervous to go up,” Reed says. “We try to calm them down, not really coax them into it, but to say, ‘Hey, it’s gonna be a fun flight,’ and usually when they get up there, they really enjoy it. They get over that fear and usually we get a couple that come back and want to do it again.”

Reed says there is an ulterior motive as he’s always hoping to hook passengers on aviation — and on becoming student pilots. He’s affiliated with P&N Flight and Charter, which has flight schools based in Clinton, Marion and Independence. “I have five students right now,” Reed says. “It takes about 40 to 50 hours per student to get them trained up before they can take the check ride to get their pilot’s certificate.” It’s an excellent career, he says, and there’s a big demand for pilots. The aerial tours run through December 30th. Learn more at www.fly-iowa.com.