“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Al Roker!” is what someone might have said if they were at Wallaby Ranch when the Today Show’s own weatherman chose it as the launching pad for his first hang-gliding experience. Al Roker’s flight was just one of more than 30,000 safe and incident-free excursions launched under the watchful eye of veteran hang-glider pilot and owner of Wallaby Ranch, Malcolm Jones. Together with a permanent crew of nine other pilots, instructors, and technicians, Malcolm leads aerotow hang-gliding flights above the lush Florida landscape of his ranch. The fleet of planes tows hang-gliders into the air, at which point they are released to float above the trees and drift smoothly down to the ground like a sleepy eagle.
Wallaby Ranch has full camping and RV accommodations on site, allowing groups and families to plan extended stays as they learn to master the aerial art. The crew prepares fresh community breakfast and lunch, and a 27,000-gallon swimming pool cools off visitors after a hard day’s glide. Guest can clamor up the climbing wall, while children can caper about the playground. Mountain-bike and walking trails abound, winding through the terrain and plunging hikers into the surrounding, native wildlife.
Defying gravity is a routine feat for the crew at MaxFlight Helicopter Services Inc. In addition to providing basic flight training for aspiring pilots, the fully licensed professionals also use the Robinson R-22 and R-44 helicopters to take passengers on aerial sightseeing tours. These excursions can be educational, recreational, or a bit of both as the pilots lift off from Kissimmee Airport and navigate their way around some of the area's natural, urban, and holographic landmarks. While soaring several hundred feet above the ground, passengers will also spy familiar sights from an entirely new perspective, and may gain a whole new appreciation for the beauty of a sunset or a fireworks show.
Students at The Art Room encounter a soothing and supportive environment punctuated by sighs of relaxation and strokes of genius. Friendly instructors guide novitiates through the basics of acrylic painting in the pleasantly spacious studio. Students learn the basic touch required to produce a range of brushed beauties, including fully formed flowers, vibrant bumblebees, and feathery roosters that leap off the canvas. Adults produce a 16"x20" piece over the course of three hours, and special classes for children run two-hours long, resulting in a 12"x16" painting. Students can bring in a few snacks to consume with the non-dominant hand, or tote along some beverages and buddies to amplify the artistic vibe.
In 2005, stress pushed Michelle McCormack to the brink of spiritual and physical collapse. Though her fast-paced finance job tested her limits, it had the happy consequence of awakening an interest in yoga, relaxation therapies, and holistic healing. Soon, she drew up a business plan and founded IHP Clinic Solution, a practice that serves the mind, body, and spirit of its patients. Today, at Aviva Health and Wellness Clinic, McCormack oversees the operations of wellness professionals who help patients become healthy inside and out.
Instead of just prescribing drugs or spoonfuls of sugar, Aviva's medical professionals thoroughly evaluate each patient. Then they recommend treatments that combine the best practices of conventional and alternative medicine. Medical services, including treatments for diabetes and heart disease, improve physical health, whereas spa and wellness services, such as acne treatments and body wraps, simultaneously improve looks and confidence. Treatments target a wide range of health- and beauty-related desires, helping patients lose weight, recover from illness, or reverse signs of aging.
The staff members at Sylvan Learning's numerous study facilities understand that each child learns differently. Therefore, they don’t try to implement a uniform tutoring system; instead, they use a four-step Sylvan Insight process to design custom lesson programs based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, one-on-one interviews.
Tutors work with students from kindergarten through grade 12, illuminating topics ranging from basic reading and writing to remembering complex algebraic formulas without having them tattooed on your chest. Many of Sylvan’s instructors work in local schools, so they are intimately familiar with common curricula and understand how to gear lessons toward optimal results. SylanSync technology complements in-person tutoring sessions, allowing kids to use iPads to further their learning. After-school and summer classes can ready high-schoolers for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college-admissions officers with their superior essay-writing skills.
Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Aviation Center's Ramon Gil's first encountered the spectacle of aerial navigation at an early age, when his family lived near an airport. It was love at first sight. Since then, Ramon has become a flight director and works with student pilots. His partner, Roger Frechette, has logged more than 5,000 hours of flight time since he took to the skies back in the 1960s. Together they have gathered a team of experienced instructors to help spread their love of cloud wrangling and maintain a fleet of meticulously cared-for, FAA-approved aircrafts, including Cessnas and Tecnam Bravo. From their base at Kissimmee Gateway Airport, the pilots lead sport-pilot-training flights, and their crafts carry pairs of sightseers over the area's most beloved landmarks, such as Disney World and Old Town Orlando.