At the helm of Mangrove Masters is Florida native and USCG-certified Captain Jack Boutchyard, who loves to introduce visitors to the waters he calls home—specifically those surrounding Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Captain Jack brings along all gear, including fishing licenses, rods, and bait for flats fishing charters that chase trout near the grass flats and redfish when the tide goes out. For a hands-off outing, the sunset cruise charts course toward a horizon bathed in soft pinks and purples, presenting a colorful backdrop for dolphins and manatees at play. Treasure hunters can also opt to meet Captain Jack on the dock for a short jaunt to the white, sandy shores of North Captiva Island, which is only accessible by boat and teems with riches such as conch shells, sand dollars, and buried chests filled with pirate baseball-card collections.
At Orlando Hang Gliding, a USHPA-certified hang gliding school, pilots work toward earning their solo pilot’s license through programs designed to help them become an expert glider. The Level I program comprises six tandem flights at over 1,000 feet. During these sessions, a certified instructor helps the student learn such skills as launch techniques, water landings, and in-flight maneuvers—crucial when trying to shake an autograph-seeking pigeon. Once complete, students matriculate to the Level II program, a nine-flight regimen that prepares them for their first solo flight. Prior to signing up, potential pilots can enroll in an Introductory Class, which includes one tandem flight with a certified instructor. Orlando Hang Gliding helps gliders get some wind beneath their wings via a power boat cruising across Biscayne Bay, due to the absence of local mountains or hidden cloud cities from which to take off.
With more than 31,000 nautical miles of sailing under his boat shoes, Captain David Richardson is more than capable of navigating his sailboat, Sundance, on the leisure cruises for which he has become known. The half-day charters he leads out of Bonita Bill's Waterfront Café take in the many moods of the Gulf of Mexico, from its tranquil disposition in the sun to the turbulent waters it experiences when it realizes it'll never be a full-grown ocean. The Sundance itself boasts comfy accommodations, from cushy seats to an on-board bathroom, and many passengers bring their own food on board to eat while ogling jumping dolphins.
At each Gun School franchise, instructors with backgrounds in law enforcement, the military, and professional security teach CCW-qualifying courses and NRA firearm classes, such as the Basic Pistol Shooting course and the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program for kids. They also lead tactical training with resources such as the Canadian Academy of Practical Shooting DVD system, which presents dramatized scenarios to help students improve their reaction time and practice drawing from their holster. In addition to training, Gun School's team organizes the Shooters' Club, which grants members privileges such as discounts on ammo, range admissions, and massages for tired trigger fingers.
Engines start to roar, propellers spin, and a large parachute expands into the sky, carrying a light aircraft and its passengers toward the clouds. Silver Lining Aviation's certified instructors create adventures like this every day as they teach visitors to soar behind the controls of sport aircrafts such as powered parachutes, weight-shift trikes, and gyroplanes. Led by licensed FAA flight instructor Craig Ewing, Silver Lining's team takes prospective pilots on introductory flights that allow them to experience aircrafts such as the Airwolf 912 and nibble on different flavors of clouds. The aviation experts also sell sport aircrafts, which patiently wait onsite as customers work through custom ground- and flight-training programs. In most cases, the flight instructors prepare their pupils for aerial navigation in as little as two weeks. They also assist new pilots with replacement parts, provide 24/7 support, and cook oil soup to feed hungry aircraft.
Bradenton Motorsports Park rouses racing fans with a fire-fueled day of supersonic events, pinning jet-powered rides against each other in clashes that reach speeds of up to 300 mph. A variety of four-wheeled jousts beguiles audience eyes in themed contests, such as a boy-versus-girl matchup that ends with the loser getting defiled with cooties. After putting the sun to bed, racers break out heavy-duty racing artillery to launch full speed into the Night of Fire. A total of seven jets scorch the concrete with burnt rubber as super sedans shred the track, including a 200 mph semi truck, which leaves behind a trail of flames as it rushes its cargo of melting ice cream to the nearest freezer. As an added bonus, the event includes several freebies, including free parking, free pit passes, and free admission for children who are 11 and younger or know how to change a tire.