There are no roads in the sky—just clouds and the floating mansions of America's billionaires. Similarly, Downtown Aviation's flying lessons don't follow one set pathway to pilot certification. Using FAA-approved materials, the school's certified flight instructors can teach a fast-paced course or follow a more casual lesson plan. But the endpoint remains the same: a student, private, or sport certificate.
One of the most exciting moments during training occurs approximately 20–25 hours into instruction, when students take the controls for their first solo flight. As they soar over Memphis or Olive Branch, taking in bird's eye views through the cockpit windshield, some may feel inspired to pursue flying as a career. Luckily, they won't have to look for a new school. Downtown Aviation's faculty trains pilots for their commercial certificates and airline transport pilot licenses. The staff can also maintain pilots' aircrafts at their Cessna-certified service center.
Kids N Technology hosts an after-school program with math and science tutoring as well as computer repair classes for kids from low-income backgrounds. During the summer, the organization runs a weeklong summer camp where kids can design and build their own computers, robots, and digital art to take home. These sessions help instill a love of STEM subjects from a young age.
Mel Baddorf didn’t start out as a runner. He used to be content cheering on his sons, who both scored college running scholarships, until he opened his own fitness club, lost 70 pounds, and discovered a love for fitness that endures to this day. That love is equaled by his enjoyment of sharing Memphis history with others, and Rockin' Running Tours pairs those passions as he leads athletic guests around the city at a calorie-burning pace.
The informative tours range from 3–6 miles, with Mel adjusting the pace so everyone can keep up. Groups can set forth on their own tour of two to six people, or join up with other visitors for camaraderie as they discover Civil War history, explore Midtown Memphis, or see the downtown sights. Mel also maps out custom pub runs where groups sample microbrews and get in touch with the city’s livelier side. Each guest receives a post-run bottle of water and a snack, as well as a souvenir T-shirt ideal for throwing on in lieu of a shower.
The course designers behind the Mud Crusade know how to handle a physical challenge. Mark Chmura, a former Green Bay Packer; Chris Watts, a former US Marine Corps reconnaissance officer; Matt Peters, a former Los Angeles police officer and sniper; and John Thomas, a middle-aged dad and carpentry extraordinaire, devised the 5K course to test participants’ mettle by bombarding them with 18 obstacles, including barbed-wire crawls, climbing walls, and mud pits. Like Poseidon during a pillow fight, athletes tackle the course in waves, competing for bragging rights before heading to a rollicking after party drenched in mud, sweat, and good spirits. A portion of the race’s proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, which supports wounded troops and their families.
A magnet for a wealth of entertainment, the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts’ modern facility looks as impressive as the roster of guests that performs on its gargantuan stage. Its multistory, glass-ensconced exterior grants visitors full glimpses into the glowing lobby. Once inside, event-goers can head into the venue’s 2,100-seat auditorium, where crisp acoustics allow them to completely appreciate musicians’ notes, actors’ lines, and the bell ring of the friendly hunchback who lives in the rafters.