The professional pilots at Timberview Helicopters ferry passengers high into the clouds aboard a sky-scraping whirlybird during flight tours through Destin, Kansas City, and Key West. Having chartered flights for National Geographic and the Travel Channel, these pilots expertly navigate planes toward sweeping, picturesque views, allowing sightseers to steal glances of Fort Walton Beach, downtown Kansas City, and Key West's ocean views from a perspective normally reserved for birds and astronauts with binoculars. Additionally, their high-definition videos grant guests a lasting commemoration of their in-flight experience. When they're not chartering tours, they teach budding pilots the gravity-defying tricks of their trade through pilot training and lug precious shipments from port to port with their cargo-lifting services.
Rum, wine, beer, sun, and food: the Key West Bacchanalia celebrates summer with all five. The festival pours out tastes of Puerto Rican rum cocktails and other select drinks, which guests sip while watching celebrity chefs whip up savory cuisine in the handheld form of burgers and barbecue. Should ticket holders wish to imbibe some history as well, an Ernest Hemingway-themed event with author and Hemingway expert Philip Greene shares recipes for rum drinks that the literary superstar enjoyed during his days in Paris, Cuba, and inside a rising sun. A portion of the event's proceeds benefit the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, an organization supporting individuals with paralysis.
Ripley’s has enthralled audiences for more than nine decades with its dedication to revealing odd and unexplainable rarities from around the globe. But it all began with one man: Robert Ripley, a wildly successful and eccentric character who rose to fame during the first half of the 20th century. After selling his first cartoon to Life magazine at age 14, he set out on a quick-paced career of drawing sports cartoons for the New York Globe. During a slow day at the office, he sketched nine unusual sporting events and finished his work with a title: “Believe It or Not!” It became immensely popular, allowing Ripley to travel the world in search of more bizarre stories to put into his comic strips. While visiting relatively unknown areas in locales such as India, China, and the inside of his neighbor’s chimney, he picked up a slew of unbelievable souvenirs that later became fixtures in several of Ripley’s museums, or as they’re affectionately called today, Odditoriums. Ripley’s now encompasses publications, attractions, a television show, and a blog, all of which carry Ripley’s tradition of reporting on the world’s curiosities.
Captain Alfons of ParaWest Parasailing knows the sky over Cayo Hueso almost as well as he knows its waters. For more than 10 years the Coast Guard–licensed captain has sent passengers into the crystal blue above the horizon, and dipped them into the crystal blue below. Although single and tandem rides begin and end on the dryness of the vessel, the captain and his CPR-trained crew dip riders into the water upon request. They also equip their participants with safety tips before takeoff, including such sage wisdom as "don't fly with scissors."
The hum of an engine melds with the howling wind as the 34-foot powerboat slices through the waters around Key West like an orange and blue bullet. At the helm, the captain shares his knowledge of the island’s notable sights and history, skirting the shoreline around the scenic Southernmost Point, Sunset Key and Mallory Square. Riders often spot local sea life frolicking in the tropically teal waters of the Caribbean, such as dolphins jumping or clown fish squirting unsuspecting minnows in the face with jets of air from prank lapel flowers.
After logging more than 1,000 hours of flying time, organizing six competitions, and gaining 34 years of experience, Scot Trueblood can safely be dubbed a hang-gliding devotee. His passion for flight is only matched by his enthusiasm to share the sky with others. That’s why he founded Paradise Hang Gliding Inc., which allows Scot to take novices for atmospheric tandem rides over the stunning waters of Florida Bay and the Straits of Florida.
As students soak up views of blue waters spread out beneath them, Scot teaches them the important aspects of operating a hang glider. He generally starts beginners off on the Wills Wing Condor 330, a glider with a lightweight frame and large wingspan. These attributes allow it to take off while moving at extremely slow speeds, ensuring a comfortable ride for hesitant newcomers or cowardly penguins.