The blades of Vertex Aviation Group’s Schweizer, Bell, and Robinson helicopters slice the sky as their team of pilots carries passengers to and fro throughout the South. The pilots provide a wealth of services via their aerial vantage point, from surveying land and power lines to eradicating agricultural pests. Meanwhile, the company’s FAA-certified trainers teach budding pilots to helm helicopters through ground instruction and hands-on flights, a curriculum more effective than the original helicopter training, running around in a propeller hat.
At Baseball USA, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, baseball isn't just a game; it's also a way to give back and teach kids about teamwork and discipline. So it's a good thing the center's more than 12 instructors are so thorough, covering everything from base running to outfield defense at their manicured 35-acre complex, which includes a 40,000-square-foot indoor facility and 16 batting tunnels. This comprehensive preparation pays off when players take to one of the center's 11 fields, each of which is available for rental by teams or individuals for practice or as part of a tournament. Visitors can also hit up the pro shop or practice on their own by stepping into the batting cages, where they refine their swings by smacking the baseballs and softballs machines fire at them.
Get Active! Get Social! helps singles and couples bust out of ruts to discover fun activities throughout the city, designing outings so that members make new friends as they go. "We like to think of ourselves as a downtown social club," says the event leader. She's in charge of organizing an itinerary of three or more activities per week that range from private cocktail parties and theater outings to skydiving and weekly social dance classes. Here, members connect through genres of Latin, swing, and country/western, which rotate on a monthly basis. "We strongly believe in the 'Live, Work and Play' motto," she says, "And it's fabulous when you can do it all in the same general area, and build friendships with those in your neighborhood."
An angler of redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and tripletail on the Matagorda Bay and Colorado River for more than a quarter century, Knee Deep Fishing's Captain Ciruti shares fishing wisdom during guided trips. The captain provides all gear on drifting trips, welcoming anglers aboard his 22-foot Gulf Coast boat powered by an E-Tec 200 engine and hundreds of bubbles blown by harnessed trout. For fishermen with their own rods and wading boots, Ciruti leads walk-and-wade excursions into shallow flats and along coastlines.
To accommodate nature admirers and history buffs, Ciruti also charters eco tours to illuminate the history, layout, and wildlife of the bay and its surrounding waterways. Skyward glances may yield views of pelicans, herons, and eagles, and below, land-bound creatures such as deer, hogs, and coyotes may make appearances along the banks.
At Tilt Studio, black lights shine down on mini golfers playing 18 holes, the glow of neon green, pink, and orange fixtures lighting up their faces. Paintings of grinning roller-coaster riders look down on them as they shoot for hole-in-ones, sending balls flying beneath a bright blue replica of the Eiffel Tower. In the jungle-themed laser-tag arena, players duck behind mock rocks and hide in the shadows beneath luminescent images of twisting pythons and laser-toting apes. This jungle theme extends into the arcade, where players will see a snarling King Kong picking a helicopter out of the air. By filling their space with neon and larger-than-life decor, Tilt Studio transports patrons to another world, much like the elevator that connects Earth and Mars.
Star Cinema Grill's motion-picture experts launch moviegoers into the fantastical cosmos of first-run films and seasonal blockbusters amid the drifting aromas of freshly grilled eats. Prior to plopping into a comfy theater seat, screen gazers can survey each location's now showing list for current features or appraise the coming soon section to plan future outings. While noshing on a large bucket of popcorn, viewers prepare to be wowed by jaw-dropping action, tear-evoking romance, or nightmare-inducing preshow cell-phone warnings. Although not included with today's deal, Star Cinema Grill offers a full menu of appetizers, entrees, and drinks served by the venue's friendly wait staff and over-the-hill drones no longer sprightly enough for Hollywood.
Standing atop a small hill and shrouded beneath low-lying branches, a hunter looks out over a pond. A thick expanse of brush lies on the far bank, and he knows that once his target flies, he'll only have seconds to shoot before it disappears beyond the foliage. The hunter, however, isn't actually hunting. He's warming up on one of Rio Brazos Hunting Preserve's two sporting-clays courses, which integrate the preserve's habitats of prairie grass, shore brush, and tree lines that are home to quail, chukar, and pheasant. Instructors lend insight to all levels of sport shooters, and hunting guides bring along trained bird dogs to recover downed game and feral squeaky toys. The preserve also allows fishing on its 15 lakes, each stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie. A more than 5,000-square-foot pavilion lends a resting place between adventures in the field. The preserve's team can also help coordinate lodging with discounted rates at nearby hotels.