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.
The FAA-certified flight instructors at Sky Surfing Aviation refer to their Delta Wing Trike aircrafts as "motorcycles of the sky." It's a fitting title, and not only because the aircrafts look like motorcycles that spent eight months inside steel cocoons. Just as bikers take scenic trips down country roads, aviators in Trikes take afternoon and evening drives through the sky. Fliers can skim white-sand beaches, soar high above the Skyway Bridge, or venture as far away as Fort Myers and the Everglades. With its open-air cockpit and hang-glider wings, the aircraft gives pilot and passenger unobstructed scenic views of Florida’s coastline. In fact, the sightlines are so clear that pilots often use the trike to spot and track marine life, including sea turtles and sharks.
While Sky Surfing Aviation's pilots will happily do all the flying during intro flights, first-time aviators are welcome to try the aircraft's intuitive controls. You simply need to grab hold of the large bar attached to the wings and shift your body weight. After the initial adventure, the instructors can train new fliers for solo flights and help them obtain pilot licenses. Aside from flight training, Sky Surfing Aviation provides sales and support for several types of light sport aircraft, such as trikes, airplanes, and gyroplanes.
Using high-quality, non-Muscadine crushed grapes imported from all over the world, the team at Aspirations Winery has been churning out low-sulfite wines since 2003. They ferment grapes into smooth, premium flavors that are comparable to those of commercially produced wines that come at twice the price and with twice as much luggage. Fruit-infused wines accompany traditional reds and whites on the shop's shelves, and if customers can't find what they're looking for, Aspirations readily stretches its arm around the globe to tap the shoulder of an appropriate supplier.
In addition to its arsenal of potables, the winery also runs a labeling service, printing custom designs that are scratch resistant and safe to dunk into tubs of water during games of bobbing for bottles.
Largo Cultural Center, which has presented the community with year-round entertainment and more than 40 artists this season, will host the cheerful event that will have the audience tapping their feet and bobbing their heads in glee. Tried and true sing-alongs and holiday hits will provide the soundtrack for this interactive auditory experience. The woodwinds and strings behind the operation will be manned and womanned by the highly talented string quartet Arioso, which is composed of members of the Florida Orchestra. Both Santa fans and scrooge groupies, or scroogies, will get in the yuletide spirit during an upbeat performance that’s capable of melting hearts and passing snowmen.
Spread across 50,000 square feet, the Armed Forces History Museum's collection boasts rare military vehicles, re-creations of historic battlefields, and artifacts with a militaristic purview that spans from WWI through current conflicts. Smoke machines and battlefield sound effects simulate the fog of war in a replica WWI trench and a Japanese battleship flight deck. A motion-simulation theater hydraulically emulates pitch and yaw as passengers' eyes alight with scenes from the Battle of Iwo Jima or Operation Desert Storm.
In the open terrain behind the museum, a fully functional WWII-era M8 armored vehicle seats four passengers in its turret and open-air compartments as it rumbles off-road for a quick thrill ride.
Born and raised in the coastal town of Dunedin, Captain Jared Simonetti spent years exploring the surrounding gulf and bay, eventually becoming a licensed and insured charter captain at the age of 19. He now welcomes passengers aboard his 1974 Proline 20-foot flat-back boat and takes small groups on sightseeing and fishing charters. Whether visitors are looking to enjoy the Florida sunset, spot local wildlife, or reel in fresh catches of snapper, trout, tarpon, and red fish, the year-round excursions provide an opportunity to see the Tampa Bay area in a new way.