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.
Raspberry Falls: 18 holes | Par 72 | 7,191 yards from the tips | Five tee options
Caddy's Report: Reminiscent of a course in the British Isles, Raspberry Falls whisks golfers across rippling terrain outfitted with streams, bunkers, and stone walls. In past lives, this property hosted fox hunts and was also a raspberry farm, which explains the name and the wild raspberry bushes growing about today.
Bull Run Golf Club: 18 holes | Par 72 | 6,961 yards from the tips | Five tee options
Caddy's Report: Water hazards come into play from the very first hole, where a pond lies in wait to swallow up balls that don't carry or aren't fitted with mini propellers. Located in the foothills of Bull Run Mountain, the course fluctuates between wide open fairways and challenging stretches hemmed in by rows of trees.
Old Hickory Golf Club: 18 holes | Par 72 | 7,077 yards from the tips | Five tee options
Caddy's Report: Every hole at Old Hickory is bunkered, and fast greens mean players must practice caution. To that end, mounded fairways also cause balls to bounce back toward the middle of the fairway?skilled golfers can take advantage of this feature by using the mounds to move shots forward.
Augustine Golf Club: 18 holes | Par 71 | 6,817 yards from the tips | Five tee options
Caddy's Report: Emerald-green fairways and white bunkers set against a darkened hardwood forest provides a lesson in contrast, but players can't be lulled by this club's beauty. Several holes readily decimate scores, including the 572-yard fourth hole, which features a double dogleg and a particularly tiny green.
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.
On the 250-acre campus of Great Meadow, about 40 local winemakers set up tents to show off a harvest that has been years in the making. At the entrance of the Virginia Wine Festival, you can pick up your souvenir glass, stop by one of the booths for a tasting, and then take home your favorite varietals by the bottle or case. Complimentary wine seminars are held throughout the day, featuring visits from renowned chefs, tutorials on judging wines, and tips for choosing the correct glass for a given wine, such as throwing two glasses against the wall and seeing which one doesn't break.
Area musicians including Jr. Cline and the Recliners, Johnny and the Headhunters, Inner Rhythm Quartet, and Glory on the Floor play folk, R&B, and jazz throughout the day, while artisans of handmade products show off their wares. At the Family Tent, Becki the Balloon Lady makes balloon animals for the kiddies.