From the outside, fly-fishing looks like an art form, with anglers harnessing the flowing, lasso-like cast framed by tree-lined mountainsides and a rock-strewn stream. But for Andrew Stiles, a fly-fisherman with more than 40 years of experience on waters around the world, a wealth of technical details supersedes this romanticized image—the physics of casting line that weighs more than the lure, the entomology of matching flies with the season's insects, the leverage required to land a 150-pound tarpon on 12-pound tackle.
This passion for both teaching and fly-fishing drives Andrew to impart his knowledge by instructing anglers all over the world. Locally, he teaches classes at John Tyler Community College and Randolph-Macon College with a curriculum modeled on the teachings of George Harvey, who developed the first accredited college fly-fishing course at Penn State in 1947. Andrew's international teaching experience includes instructing at the Euroclave Federation of Fly Fishing / Danish Fly Fishing Festival in Denmark, as well as virtually coaching clients as far away as Australia through Skype. He also develops tailored video lessons and posts a YouTube series for beginners. Throughout all of this, Andrew upholds the high standards of a fly-casting instructor certified through outdoor organizations such as the Federation of Fly Fishers.
When not teaching, Andrew travels the world, applying his tactics—such as his specialty in the double-haul method—to waters that range from the mangrove flats of Florida to the trout streams in England. “If you’re fishing for trout, you’re going to be in some of the most pristine waters in the world,” he says. An expert in fly tackle, he can also appraise antique fly outfits unearthed from attics, basements, and the forgotten prop storage units of A River Runs Through It.
Located on the bank of the foliage-lined James River, Kayak Richmond offers kayaking instruction and guided tours in the river’s diverse water conditions. Beginner’s kayaking lessons stick to the river’s more placid stretches, giving first-time paddlers a safe environment in which to learn the basics. Tours, meanwhile, are led by Kayak Richmond’s team of experienced kayakers, who guide groups through gentle whitewater, rapids, and portages on trips up to five hours long.
One of the Science Museum of Virginia’s current exhibits includes a few basketball players—just don’t expect LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. These basketball players are two rats, playing a live one-on-one game to demonstrate operant and classical conditioning. Throughout the three-story museum, more hands-on examples of science await at five permanent exhibits. Inspect a rock from the moon, explore a life-size space capsule, and generate energy by pedaling a stationary bike. Kids can even build their own playground with materials such as mats and foam blocks.
Inside the IMAX Dome, a screen 10 times the size of a typical 35 mm screen shows a wide range of educational films. Outside the museum, plants in the BayScapes Garden thrive without pesticide, fertilizer, or the encouragement of a motivational speaker, and an onsite greenhouse offers free planting areas for visitors to contribute greenery and learn about sustainable farming.
Steve Wendt brings nearly 40 years of experience soaring the skies to his lessons at Blue Sky Virginia Hang Gliding's flight park, where he instructs gliders of all experience levels in launch methods ranging from training-hill foot launches to towing. Through personalized instruction in classes certified by the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, he hones flyers’ skills in solo and tandem hang-gliding and in piloting trikes and paragliders against elite racing pigeons. Using aero-towing, park staff members can tow pilots to heights of more than 2,000 feet, or get them airborne with platform and scooter towing.
Staff also outfit certified pilots and enthusiasts with a fleet of gliders from brands such as Aeros, Icaro 2000, Moyes, and North Wing, each made from aircraft-grade aluminum and Dacron sailcloth. In the event of regular wear and tear or run-ins with jealous paper airplanes, they can also sew sails, repair harnesses, and bend frames back into shape in a repair facility.
The state- and NRA-certified instructors at MMTA Firearms Training Academy put safety above all else. In accommodating students, they facilitate both mobile and onsite training in classes and private lessons. These gatherings take place at locales such as nearby ranges and hotel conference rooms, where the instructors lead courses such as the NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation along with lessons in specialized topics such as rifle shooting, personal protection, and training to become a range safety officer.
Like Superman's secret North Pole fortress, SkateNation Plus brings the excitement with lasers, arcade games, and 17,000 square feet of glassy ice worth gliding upon. Its regulation NHL–size rink serves as a venue for public skating sessions, in addition to figure-skating lessons, hockey games, and ice-dancing performances. More than 40 games in its onsite arcade whir with a flurry of tickets, and a full spectrum of prizes awaits quick-handed winners at the redemption counter. During laser-tag sessions, the Lasertron computer spontaneously upgrades players with such power-ups as "energizer" or "force field," which protects against enemy blasts more effectively than a lead vest or full-length mirror.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.