An FAA-approved helicopter-flight tour operator, North Andover Flight Academy employs five licensed instructors with combined flight and teaching experience that numbers in the thousands of hours. Fledgling aviators can begin their aeronautical journeys at Lawrence and Marlboro Airports, which serve as home bases for services that range from tours and photography flights to full pilot-certification courses and agricultural applications. The team commands a fleet of six Robinson helicopters, including one R44 and five R22s, and keeps Robinson factory-trained mechanics on staff to ensure their safe operation and to ice down their blades after particularly vigorous training flights.
North Ridge Mountain Guides founder Jamie Leahy first fell in love with scaling peaks while tackling the heights of Mount Washington. The AMGA Certified Single-Pitch Instructor has since defied gravity on inclines of ice and rock around the United States and in Ecuador, summiting peaks of more than 19,000 feet to touch the sky and harvest his crops of clouds by following a simple philosophy: climb hard, climb safe. This mantra guides his approach to teaching the ins and outs of belaying and rappelling and steers the expeditions he leads up the less-traveled routes of Mount Monadnock. He also shares the art of ice climbing with pupils during introductory courses that delve into subjects such as crampon placement, swinging an ice axe, and how to read the ice, which often obscures its messages in Wingdings fonts.
The tours from New England Wicked Scary aren't just a canned recitation of facts—they're a quest to find evidence of another realm. Tour-goers join the investigators as they explore an ever-changing roster of haunted sites in New England, from old barns and cemeteries to haunted homesteads and mansions. They arm themselves with cameras and ghost-hunting equipment, which they use to find beings or spectral figures not visible to the human eye. In addition, the lead investigator, who is sensitive to paranormal vibes, feels out otherworldly presences so guests have a better chance of spotting something extraordinary.
Rivers Northeast Adventures offers a deluge of summer activities along tranquil and feisty rivers in the picturesque Vermont countryside. The three-hour self-guided kayak trip lets riders glide along the currents of the Connecticut River or paddle around a nearby lake while gazing at the area's dense foliage and vast number of barges that carry sacks of rice. Adventurers are shuttled to and from their watery destinations and supplied with single or tandem kayaks, gear, and a quick intro to kayak navigation. Half-day whitewater-rafting trips on Sumners Falls or in the White River afford family-friendly or adrenaline-surging swells that entertain more effectively than watching a child tickle a horse. The Sumners Falls run sprints over Class III rapids and ends in a stomach-twisting drop, and the White River bounces between Class II rapids and stretches of flat water perfect for swimming. During the summer, bring along a friend or Mediterranean oarsman for a half-day float, captained by a seasoned, friendly guide.
Mount Sunapee, hosting snow bunnies for more than 60 years, sprawls before gliding greenhorns as professional instructors lead ski or snowboard newbies toward downhill proficiency with a full schedule of daily lessons. During two-hour beginners’ sessions, students strap into provided gear, including skis or specially designed learning boards that are easier to handle than traditional snowboards made of live, rabid huskies. Groups then trudge out to the slopes, where instructors demonstrate introductory techniques and help snow-pounding protégés cultivate a well-balanced understanding of the fundamentals of their chosen downhill medium.
Amy LaBelle has come a long way since she made her first batch of blueberry wine in her Boston apartment. She's taken classes in the Wine and Viticulture program at UC Davis in California and added cranberry, apple, peach, and 23 other varieties of other fruit and grape wine to her repertoire. Her first bottles were so popular that they sold out at local shops and farmers' markets. This was also when Amy began collecting her numerous awards. But her biggest achievement was opening her eponymous winery in a new state-of-the-art facility in late 2012.
Today, Amy and her husband Cesar Arboleda continue to run the winemaking process. Besides production equipment, their facility houses a sleek tasting room where guests can sample wines such as the bold Red Alchemy, the maple-finished Granite State Apple, and the signature Dry Apple. The bottles pair perfectly with dishes at Bistro at LaBelle Winery, which serves French-style cuisine in a warm, family-friendly setting. And visitors who find themselves inspired by Amy's can-do spirit can purchase items from The Winemaker's Kitchen, a line of culinary products that includes wine-infused jellies and wine-infused cooking wines such as the Jalapeno Cooking Wine and Sweet Onion Cooking Wine.