Southern California Helicopters’ meticulous introductory flight-training program prepares students for supplemental instruction using classroom materials and hands-on experience. Neophyte pilots begin aviation explorations with 30 minutes of ground instruction, where a knowledgeable instructor imparts lessons on navigating the instrument console and understanding right-of-way at a four-way stop. With book smarts cemented, students climb into one of the school’s helicopters and ascend into the open skies, one-on-one with a pilot, for a 30-minute flight. At a safe altitude, instructors shift control to the pupils, giving them the opportunity to experience a thrill usually enjoyed only by weather balloons and mice that have stowed aboard a radio-controlled zeppelin.
The pilots at Star Helicopters discovered their shared passion for aviation at different times in their lives—some as soldiers, some simply as kids dreaming of the clouds. Today, as they all oversee a flock of Robinson R22s and R44s, Astar 350s, and Bell 206B3 Jet Rangers, they lift off over Los Angeles' mountains, beaches, and skyscrapers, patrolling the limitless skies as they shoot aerial photography, assist in movie production, and instruct aspiring aviators in how to take the copter's reins themselves. During tours, passengers fly over the LA Basin, sweeping past landmarks such as the Griffith Observatory, the Santa Monica Mountains, and Hollywood Studios.
In order to pursue his passion for flying, Anaheim Helicopters founder Mark Skinner left his home in England and began the journey to his current West Coast home. Now, in stable, modern, and air-conditioned helicopters, Mark stirs the air above Los Angeles and Orange County to provide passengers with views of rugged mountains and iconic buildings. During tours, Mark points out landmarks such as the Sunset Strip, the Capitol Records Building, and Dodger Stadium before soaring between skyscrapers, over famous homes, and in V-formation with migrating geese. In addition to piloting helicopters, Mark joins with a team of FAA–certified flight instructors to lead aviation lessons for aspiring pilots.
Michael "Rocket" Blackstone was born into a family of pilots, and he began flying with his father at age 8. Now with 25 years of experience and 14,000 hours of logged flight time, Michael chooses to share his passion for flying with novice aviators and eager thrill seekers, taking them into the skies in one of four stunt aircraft, including a vintage-inspired, open-cockpit biplane.
After a brief safety talk on the ground, he and his pilots use these planes to take customers on adrenaline-pumping thrill rides, as seen on Eye on L.A.. These flights crisscross the skies over the California coastline, reaching speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. Passengers can even take the stick after takeoff, regardless of their experience level, and help the pilot guide the plane through basic aerobatic maneuvers, such as performing a loop, taking it into a roll, and skywriting a knock-knock joke within sight of downtown.
Michael and his pilots also lead flight-training sessions that teach students the basics of aerobatics over the course of several skyward outings with pre- and post-flight briefings. For a more tranquil excursion, they fly sightseeing tours of downtown Los Angeles or Long Beach Harbor and take passengers on chartered flights to Catalina Island.
At The Pumpkin Factory, festive gourds bring an orange glow to the atmosphere, setting the scene for an exciting fall carnival. At three locations, kids leap into the air in inflatable bounce houses, converse with the goats at the petting zoo, and trot around on gentle ponies. In Corona, a special EuroBobble attraction lets guests play buoy, rolling atop a pool in a clear, inflatable bubble. At the Westminster Pumpkin Factory, helicopters take flight for scenic tours of the fairgrounds. At the end of the day, families can take home a pumpkin of their own to create a gruesome jack 'o' lantern doppelganger of their neighbor.
The male and female firearm experts of American Home Defense shape their shooting and self-defense classes around legal regulations with an emphasis on personal safety. In private shooting lessons, students learn to handle three of the most common handguns and home-defense classes equip participants with the know-how to protect their families from intruders or a neighbor's moat monster.