Wanting to fly to the beat of a different drummer, a couple of flight instructors decided in 2009 to start their own training center and teach the skills their unique way. They laid the groundwork for their new business with cutting-edge safety features such as aircrafts boasting airbags and innovative weather and traffic advisories. Additionally, the duo acknowledges that cost often keeps those with sky-bound ambitions grounded, so they work with individuals to find an affordable training plan. Besides their pilot programs, the owners make their Cirrus aircraft and bundles of helium-filled balloons available for rent.
Andres Kerllenevich began flying helicopters as a hobby while making a living as a lawyer. As time passed, he earned his license and left to fly tours over Alaska and New York City. He eventually settled in St. Augustine, the historical city where his wife fondly remembered vacationing as a child. Now, seven other FAA-certified pilots join him in leading tours over the coastal castles, historic lighthouses and colleges, and vibrant downtown areas of St. Augustine, Tampa, and the Florida Keys.
At the helm of Robinson R44 helicopters, the pilots soar at heights of up to 1,500 feet past Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Porpoise Point, and the towering red cross at the Mission of Nombre de Dios. They also guide tours above Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and the Florida Aquarium, while granting passengers glimpses of coastline populated by bottlenose dolphins. Pilots have also orchestrated aerial marriage proposals, during which the groom-to-be points out his question written on the beach or on a rooftop sign. The tours grant a bird's-eye view for photography and videography sessions.
Manning a fleet of Robinson R44 whirlybirds, the pilots of Tallahassee Helicopters introduce sightseers to the clouds through tours and commercial flights, and also train new crops of aspiring pilots. Flights depart from Tallahassee Regional Airport, shuttling passengers into the great blue yonder to see the downtown skyline, local country clubs, lakes, and parks from above. The service also offers lunch and dinner tours, allowing tourists to make a strong impression as they arrive at restaurants in style and carve their steaks with the helicopter’s whirling tail rotor.
The company also operates its own academy, where students begin with introductory flights that put them in control of the helicopter for 90% of their flying time. The full piloting program prepares students for their first solo flights, while the R44 transition program teaches already licensed pilots the nuances of operating the R44 helicopter.