When the Robinson helicopters at Queen City Helicopter Corp. aren’t acting as airborne classrooms for aspiring pilots, they’re whisking passengers on aerial tours of nearby landmarks. The peaks of Crowders Mountain, the sports arenas of uptown Charlotte, and the horses and buggies of the Charlotte Motor Speedway loom large in the windows of the chopper after it takes off from the company's very own private, FAA-approved heliport. On the ground at the FAA flight school, pilots safely test their abilities inside a flight simulator and study in the onsite classroom.
Wahoo’s Adventures refers to itself as the “original” whitewater outfitter, having facilitated outdoor excursions on rafts, tubes, canoes, and kayaks for the past three decades. Whitewater-rafting tours take place upon the Watauga River, the Nolichucky River, and Wilson Creek Gorge, three waterways with differing levels of frothiness, much like three cappuccinos ordered by a family of bears. Alternatively, adults without rafting experience and children as young as 6 months can lazily drift down the New River while sprawled across tubes. As they pass rugged hillsides and scenic farmland, tubers can smell wildflowers, listen to chirping birds, and keep eyes peeled for Sasquatch footprints. Keeping clients safe is Wahoo’s main priority, which is why their experienced guides equip adventurers with high-quality life jackets, helmets, and paddles before taking the water.
While the Hampton family owns and operates French Broad Ziplines, twin brothers Mitch and Michael Hampton have also had their personal share of ups and downs, both on the water and off. At age 10, they began exploring eastern Tennessee rivers with their grandfather, and they followed that passion for whitewater rafting into their business, which had been family-run for nearly 30 years. But then their dream was threatened. A fire swallowed the business, and the brothers lost everything. Slowly, though, with the help of family, friends, and staff, they rebuilt their company, learning patience and perseverance while finding comfort and strength in the support of their community.
Today, in addition to their traditional water-based excursions, the brothers also take to the trees on their recently constructed zipline course. Ripping through the clear mountain air, they've charted mid-air trails for zipline canopy tours that send guests soaring from tree to tree more swiftly than a caffeinated eagle. The course's eight ziplines stretch in distance from 420' to 1000', ensuring the guests have plenty of time to admire their sky-high view of the woods on adventures that also incorporate rappels, short hikes, and a rumbling jaunt on a hard-nosed utility vehicle.
Beech Mountain's slick slopes and snowy trails give its customers a thrilling powder experience with the claim of eastern North America's highest ski resort, which sits 5,506 feet above sea level. The resort features beginner Play Yard areas, intermediate slopes and advanced skier tracks, including the White Lightning and Southern Star. After shredding blankets of frozen rain, patrons can peruse the souvenir shop or enjoy a fresh coffee at the café, warming tummies while taunting yetis that are too large to hold espresso mugs. For those who are sans skis, Beech Mountain's rental shop stocks everything needed to blissfully coast into the great white beyond.
The Pavilion cultivates every species of physical activity within its 66,000-square-foot indoor complex and adjacent outdoor fields. The eclectic indoor space hosts soccer, volleyball, and curling face-offs, as well as a year-round ice-skating facility, bounce house, and inline-skating space. Fledgling ice skaters slip and slide during public skating sessions or take part in the U.S. Figure Skating Association's basic skills program to grease their triple axels. As the temperature rises, members make a mad dash outdoors to one of six tennis courts and three soccer fields, or hail a ride on George, The Pavilion's historic miniature passenger train. The complex's Boundless Playground offers a space where children with disabilities can be included in play thanks to accessible slides, swings, and climbing structures.
Benchwarmers Sports Complex helps athletes stay off the bench with a wide range of training facilities. Four pitching tunnels transform string bean arms into powerful cannons, while two automated batting cages and three live arm cages allow hurled baseballs to hone swings, instead of inflated puffer fish, which will just hone your fear of seafood restaurants. Elsewhere, its basketball court boasts adjustable rims and a gigantic electronic scoreboard, and its indoor turf fields feature granular rubber infill to support players as they work up a sweat during games of baseball, football, soccer, and lacrosse.