Professional anger and guide Mike Davis picked up his first fishing pole in his hometown of Orlando, Florida, where the swampy surroundings provided ample opportunities for reeling in scaly specimens. After high school, Mike fulfilled his childhood dream of being a meteorologist before serving a combat tour in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm, and once back in the States, he was selected as a member of the National Weather Service. While his head was in the clouds, his heart remained by the water, and he ultimately decided to make his passion for fishing his life's pursuit. Today, Mike resides in Nashville where he leads guided fishing tours on Old Hickory Lake, helping anglers of all ages and abilities catch bass, crappie, catfish, and the rare yet inedible rubber fish.
After paddling his way into the U.S. Olympic Team–trial finals twice, Jeff West, founder of Ace Kayaking School, began sharing his love of the sport with readers of popular publications and more than 5,000 eager students. Striving for a maximum 3:1 instructor to student ratio in all of his courses, Jeff and his team teach key skills to beginners and experienced rollers alike while gliding down the Ocoee River's famous Table Saw rapids. In addition to whitewater kayaking, Ace teaches stand-up paddleboarding and the advanced waterfall navigating techniques of creek boating and freefalling in a barrel.
A U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association–rated master pilot, Matt Taber has been soaring through the skies since 1978, during which time he's managed to design several of his own gliders. He's also devised and constructed other contraptions, such as glider-towing equipment and lightweight tow planes—both of which his company, Lookout Mountain Flight Park, uses to teach new recruits how to surf the skies. Matt leads a team of USHPA-certified pilots and instructors that coaches students of all levels in basics and advanced maneuvers through on-the-ground training and hands-on tandem flights, during which pilots safely guide their charges over the scenic mountains and blurry bushes of Lookout Valley at altitudes of up to 4,000 feet. Conducted on a 55-acre private training facility, lessons can include the overnight use of amenities such as a pool, volleyball court, bathhouse, and cabins.
Tennessee Skydiving, LLC, which is one of the closest skydiving schools to Nashville, boats a squadron of crack skydiving instructors that are more daring than most. Riding alongside clients in their spacious and speedy turbo-charged plane, the instructors strap themselves to jumpers for tandem jumps at the standard height of 10,500 feet, which provides 45 seconds of free fall. Sometimes, though, they urge the pilot to climb higher—up to 18,000 feet—for jumps they call “extreme tandem”. At this height, divers need oxygen tanks to breathe, but the risks are well worth the reward—a lengthier, 90-second free fall at face-stretching speeds of up to 120 mph. Even at such intense speeds, adventurers have no need to fear because Tennessee Skydiving is Department of Defense certified with most of their instructors being ex-military.
A Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and winner of the 2009 Larry MacPhail Trophy for inventive promotional efforts in the community, the Lookouts induce crackerjack-tossing cheers thanks to a skilled roster of battle-ready bat-and-glove brandishers. Settle into an up-close lower box seat (the seating areas in green) at scenic AT&T Field, where guests can absorb majestic views of the surrounding greenery and use their souvenir program to call out the opposing first baseman's credit score.