The FAA-certified pilots at Prestige Helicopters, Inc. fly their passengers over downtown Atlanta, the King and Queen towers, and Turner Field. They helm a fleet of three Robinson R44 helicopters, as well as R22 whirlybirds, each spacious enough for up to three guests. Along the way, skybound guests peep at the area's arterial highways, majestic mountains, and winding Chattahoochee River, intermittently soaring high enough to fly over skyscrapers while avoiding most feral clouds.
Pilots also instill basics of takeoff, steering, and landing during flight-training programs that start students off on the cloud-kicking path to obtaining private, commercial, and flight-instructor licenses. When not leading tours and training programs, the skywaymen shuttle passengers between airports and hotels and take aerial photographers up for photo shoots.
Humans dreamed of achieving flight for millennia, driven by the desire to find out what clouds taste like (a lot like fog, it turns out). Take to the skies with today's Groupon. For $40 per person, you get a quarter-hour private helicopter tour from Whirl Helicopter Atlanta, a $79 value. Depart from McCollum Airport in Kennesaw and fly to Kennesaw Mountain and over Marietta Square and the Big Chicken.
The 3,600-second Discovery Flight sits you side by side with one of the school's certified flight instructors in a Robinson R22 helicopter. After a brief ground school that covers the basics, you'll strap into the cockpit of this reliable, safe little bird and cover essential preflight principles such as breathing and not making eye contact for more than three seconds. Listen to the purr of the engine that's won the R22 major-speed and distance-performance records, while your steady hands maintain hovering level. From there you'll try a short flight around the area, with the instructor offering helpful guidance along the way.
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.
The FAA–certified instructors at Wesson Aviation instill safe-flying habits in budding aviators, whether their aim is to casually jaunt through the clouds or to pursue a license for flying a plane, helicopter, or really large, specially folded piece of paper. No matter their aerial pursuit, pilots learn on modern and well-maintained equipment. The Bell Jet Ranger helicopter has flown about 1,400 hours and spoils students with modern avionic equipment, such as a Garmin GPS, radar altimeter, and heating and air conditioning—creature comforts to revel in when playing long hide-and-seek games with a stealth bomber. Students can also work toward their FAA pilot certification for private, commercial, or instructor flight at more than 200 miles per hour aboard the outfit’s twin-engine Beechcraft Baron airplane.:
Ron Carroll's fascination with helicopters began in Vietnam, when the aircraft transported him and his fellow infantry through the jungles to the front lines. Two Purple Hearts, nearly 20 years, and a stint in the publishing industry later, Carroll happened upon a copy of Flying magazine and his interest quickly rekindled. He continued with flying lessons, deepening his desire to become a helicopter pilot.
Today, Carroll possesses a Gold Seal CFI certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and helms a team of three pilots with more than 25,000 combined hours of flight experience. With a fleet comprising Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters?as well as a TruFlite H flight simulator that lets aspiring pilots practice operating a helicopter while singing and without leaving the ground?the team has trained throngs of airmen, including Governor Sonny Perdue.