White sand beaches spread out into the distance, running into the cerulean-blue sea, where seaweed and fish can be seen drifting below the surface. Tree-studded islands and winding sandbars pass underneath, and a white suspension bridge stretches across the horizon like a length of thread. Tampa Bay Aviation's visitors take in these elevated, panoramic views of the Florida coastline from the passenger’s seat or behind the controls of an airplane or helicopter.
Its team of certified flight instructors and experienced commercial pilots operates a fleet of Cessna 172 and Piper Cherokee planes, Robinson R22 helicopters, and an FAA-approved helicopter simulator. During flight experiences and pilot-training programs, they let clients take the aircraft's controls without having to first duel the ghosts of the Wright brothers. They also take clients skyward for aerial surveys and photography sessions.
Andres Kerllenevich began flying helicopters as a hobby while making a living as a lawyer. As time passed, he earned his license and left to fly tours over Alaska and New York City. He eventually settled in St. Augustine, the historical city where his wife fondly remembered vacationing as a child. Now, seven other FAA-certified pilots join him in leading tours over the coastal castles, historic lighthouses and colleges, and vibrant downtown areas of St. Augustine, Tampa, and the Florida Keys.
At the helm of Robinson R44 helicopters, the pilots soar at heights of up to 1,500 feet past Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Porpoise Point, and the towering red cross at the Mission of Nombre de Dios. They also guide tours above Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and the Florida Aquarium, while granting passengers glimpses of coastline populated by bottlenose dolphins. Pilots have also orchestrated aerial marriage proposals, during which the groom-to-be points out his question written on the beach or on a rooftop sign. The tours grant a bird's-eye view for photography and videography sessions.