Just southwest of St. Louis, a Cessna 150 rolls out of a hangar and turns to taxi down the runway of Festus Airport. It gracefully lifts off the ground, quickly ascending while dipping its right wing to head toward the muddy waters of the Mississippi River. Inside the plane is a first-time pilot, falling in love with the thrill of flight while an instructor watches over operations to ensure the utmost safety.
At Festus Airport, resident instructors illuminate tender-footed aeronauts during flight lessons, and experienced jumpers from Fly Free Skydiving usher adventurers out of perfectly good airplanes from high above St. Louis. Held each year across the airports' grassy fields, the Jefferson County Balloon Festival also calls Festus Airport home, entertaining more than 10,000 guests at last year's family-friendly flying festivities. The sight sets all visitors at ease with an indoor lounge, Internet access, and a picnic area with unlimited access to fresh air and views of the runway.