Headquartered at the Dunnellon airport, Graybird Airsports sends clients airborne with a number of exhilarating activities. Folks take to the sky in one of their ultralight aircrafts, which beginners can pilot with an instructor by their side during tandem training rides. The center also offers hanggliding and paragliding, both led by trained and certified instructors. Paragliders can enjoy the thrill of a smooth progression into weightlessness with specially designed parachutes that lift gliders up into the air with the grace and ease of Superman in an evening gown.
For more than four decades, Sunair Aviation has been training safe and technically proficient pilots as a professional flight training school stationed at Leesburg International Airport. An FAA-approved Part 61 program, the school recently acquired Part 141 certification as well, allowing it to train private pilots with its fleet of Cessna, Beechcraft, and Piper airplanes. Thanks to the collective experience of certified flight instructors and IFR-approved Garmin 430 avionic systems aboard each plane, the school boasts a safety record unblemished by so much as a wing paper cut.
In addition to offering students real flying experience, the outfit invites students to log flying hours inside its full motion Redbird FMX Simulator. Stationed safely on the ground, the apparatus surrounds pilots with wrap-around visuals and real avionic equipment. As the simulator rolls, pitches, and yaws, students encounter valuable practice with real piloting situations, but without the common flying hassles of long waits on the runway or floating toll booths.
University Air Center dispatches its gravity-defying fleet on charter, rental, and training flights from its airborne offices located at Gainesville Regional Airport. A shiny, new Eclipse EA-500 cools its jets in the hangar bay, waiting to take its business-class passengers to their destinations at more than 400 mph, speeds once only achieved by cheetahs fired out of cannons. Trainees climb into the center's Redbird FMX simulator for ground-based training, or ride in a Cessna 172 for an actual flying experience. The aviators also tackle plane maintenance and avionics repairs as customers watch the twin big screens in the lounge or look up pilots' preferred knock-knock jokes on the complimentary computers.
The certified flight instructors at First Landings Aviation were all actively airborne by their 20s: Adam Valencic earned his Private Pilot's License at 19, and Chris Buell and Kyle Pack began flying at ages 12 and 13, respectively. The pilots harness their years-long enthusiasm for each individually tailored student program they offer, be it a half-hour Discovery flight, sport-pilot training, or private-pilot training. The sport-pilot flight-instructor course, meanwhile, affords students opportunities to practice their instruction skills before teaching others how to beat flocks of migratory geese in drag races. With their licenses in tow, pilots can also take the skies in one of First Landing Aviation's rental aircrafts.
When passengers travel with RedCoach, Inc., they can watch DVDs on overhead monitors, pull down a tray table to work on their laptop, or recline their seat to take a snooze. Free WiFi permeates the cabin, which is split into first-class and business-class seating. Both designations are equipped with premium leather chairs, but first-class passengers also enjoy luxuries such as power outlets and lap desks. Each passenger is allowed to transport one free carry-on as well as two bags up to 50 pounds free of charge. RedCoach travels to major Florida cities such as Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Gainesville, Orlando, and West Palm Beach, dropping passengers off at local hotels, airports, and universities.