As a child, Michael O’Daniel would sometimes spend his days among giant aircraft in a hangar as his father, a Pan Am pilot out of Miami, was at work. Michael found himself daydreaming about one day being able to fly; by 1980 he was a private pilot. Eventually he became taken with another form of flight—paragliding. He founded Powered Paragliding USA and over the years has spread his wings over Peru, Costa Rica, and he once completed a flight across the entire length of the Panama Canal.
A few years ago, Michael was joined at Powered Paragliding by Brian Goff, another pilot. Goff has hundreds of hours of flying experience; he's been behind the controls of everything from helicopters and airplanes to aerobatic planes and hot air balloons. Today, Michael and Brian man flights for clients of all experience levels. They can fly tandem with beginners, or train budding para-pilots on technique, safety, and how to switch lanes with birds. Expert flyers can take to the skies by purchasing their own paragliders and paramotors from the company.
The pilots at DC Skydiving Center fly to heights of up to 2 miles before divers of all skill levels hurl themselves from the plane's side door. Before they ever leave the ground, though, students receive a safety briefing and thorough explanation of the jump process. The center’s instructors specialize in calming the jitters of newbie divers by strapping in with them on tandem dives, but they also regularly shed single tears as more experienced adrenaline junkies pull out their own parachute at the culminating point of accelerated free-fall programs. Once in the air, the small aircraft's large, panoramic windows grant breathtaking views of the capitol skyline and Blue Ridge Mountains, all of which are captured on RVT video by instructors on the descent.
The adventure-seeking staff members of ThrillZOWN organize outdoors adventures at more than 100 locations nationwide, letting customers experience the waters, air, and land of America’s diverse regions. Seasoned guides lead adventurers on whitewater-rafting trips on inland rivers, and instructors conduct lessons in surfing and filling out life guards' paperwork at coastal beaches. Other guides help guests plunge to earth safely in tandem-skydiving and tandem-paragliding flights, while aeronauts sweep them through scenic country vistas during hot-air-balloon flights. On dry land, equestrians teach customers to think like a centaur on horseback trail rides, and professional stock-car drivers guide them in laps around a racetrack.
Since founding her equestrian outfit in June of 2010, Karen E. Feeney has been inviting students of all levels to her full-service facility to learn the fundementals of hunter/jumper, equitation, and fox hunting. Students train with gentle horses as they navigate the facility’s many facets, including rock walls, high jumps, and an indoor training space designed to reduce the appearance of saddle tanlines.
Augustine Golf Club's award-winning course was sculpted to reflect its natural beauty with its distinctive par 4s sculpted by course architect, Rick Jacobson. Although the greens at Augustine declined for a few years, recent renovations have restored the course to its former glory, once again luring golfers to its babbling streams and forest. Farther north, rivals Augustine's sister course, Raspberry Falls. Course architect Gary Player remarked that the Falls, once an 18th-century plantation, “was made for a golf course.” Inspired by this ideal setting, he dreamed up the links-style course at Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club, whose meandering brooks, stone walls, and stacked-sod bunkers evoke Scotland, while its vista of the Catoctin Mountains remind players they’re in Virginia.
These golf havens have more than picturesque views in common—they are two of six award-winning courses united by Raspberry Golf Management’s portfolio, which stretches from Virginia to Pennsylvania and skips over to Arizona. Gary Player’s design team for Raspberry Falls included Tim Freeland, who went on to design two of the firm’s other courses: Royal Manchester Golf Links, whose bentgrass fairways sidle up to the Susquehanna River, and Old Hickory Golf Club, a parkland-style course crisscrossed by Beaver Creek. The management company's other gems include The Legacy Golf Resort, where cowboys used to ride their rocking horses around a 7,500-acre ranch, and Bull Run Golf Club, which sprawls across more than 450 acres of meadows and woodlands at the foot of the Bull Run Mountains.
The chefs at Desiderio Italian-American Grill hand-roll meatballs, sprinkle spices into the house marina, and fill plates with ravioli shells. They craft every dish using the family recipes of owners Rick Marrero and Victor Rodriguez, creating ricotta cheesecake and Grandma Joanie's meatballs, which blend veal, pork, and beef. What isn't crafted in-house is still handmade—the cannolis arrive fresh from Artuso Pastry, a bakery in the Little Italy neighborhood of the Bronx. The restaurant's dining space extends to an outdoor patio, which shades patrons with an awning, trees, and a cumulus cloud tethered to the roof.