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A gallery of masterpieces showcases stunningly virtuosic renderings—which are especially impressive considering they were created by kids. While fostering a friendly, cheerful atmosphere, instructors teach classical art skills to classes of up to 12 students at a time. During weekly classes, the skilled instructors demonstrate how to realistically illustrate animals, figures, and still-life scenes using traditional media. "Creativity follows mastery" is the KidsArt philosophy, so they designed the sort of program they imagine the old masters would have approved. Planting graphite sticks and paintbrushes in pupils' hands, instructors teach color mixing, show students how to break an image into its component parts, and instill necessary behaviors such as focus and patience. Programs include individualized drawing and painting lessons and special-topic workshops, such as clay sculpture, figure drawing, and Anime/cartooning.

19524 Nordhoff St
Northridge,
CA
US

From their home base at Van Nuys Airport, the certified flight instructors at Encore Flight apply what they learned as students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to the training of new pilots-to-be through everything from discovery flights to full pilot's certification. The crew goes to work aboard an extensive fleet of Piper and Cessna light-sport aircraft, or doles out instruction while safely planted on the ground inside two FAA-approved flight simulators, one a stationary apparatus and the other a full-motion Redbird FMX. Fully enclosed in the Redbird's cockpit, students experience the motions of actual flight on all three axes and enjoy more than 200 degrees of wrap-around visuals, helping them spot hazards such as oncoming flocks of birds or commuting superheroes.

16700 Roscoe Blvd
Van Nuys,
CA
US

Adventure Helicopter Tours parades sightseers about the skies above Los Angeles for aerial appreciation of the city's many landmarks. The outfit hosts 12 separate tours around southern California, including those that fly over the homes of celebrities, providing ample opportunities to pass judgment on their backyard barbecuing skills. Other options include a romantic sunset excursion, and a route that flies past the Hollywood sign. Every passenger on an Adventure Helicopter Tours excursion enjoys window seating and a two-way MP3 stereo headset for easy communication with fellow sightseers.

10500 Airpark Way
Pacoima,
CA
US

To put Aquanautics Dive?s status as a PADI 5-star dive center and instructor training facility in perspective, it helps to remember that there are more than 6,000 PADI facilities across the world. Each one would love to have the organization?s prized 5-star rating for just its dive center or instructor training facility; Aquanautics Dive boasts both. Add in the center?s designation as a DAN Training Center, and you begin to understand the scope of experience and training possessed by PADI Course Director Jeff Mills and his staff. On the facility?s extensive class schedule, aspiring open-water divers, rescue divers, and divemasters alike can find a class that suits their needs. In addition to teaching students how to dive safely, Aquanautics Dive?s staff helps further their progress by renting out equipment and organizing charter boat trips to dive sites such as old shipwrecks.

13059 San Fernando Rd
Sylmar,
CA
US

Instructor Dave Curtis understands why many people shy away from music lessons. Stereotypically, music lessons can be stiff, demanding, and no fun at all, as stringent teachers suck a player's passion out with rote repetition. Dave's philosophy is to let students play music their own way, because he believes music should never stop being joyful. During 30- and 60-minute lessons, Dave eschews standard chord-gorging and endless rounds of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for a sharpened focus on music theory—the not-so-secret language that accomplished musicians speak. In one-on-one lessons, Dave inspires students to play the songs that they want to play as they learn to transpose, write, and arrange their own songs.

8831 Debra Avenue
North Hills,
CA
US

For more than two decades, the FAA-certified flight instructors at Orbic Air have maintained an impeccable safety record while escorting sightseers and pilots in training through the sky aboard a reliable fleet of Robinson helicopters. With Van Nuys Airport as a home nest, casual travelers can charter a scenic ride to Los Angeles, Big Bear, or Las Vegas in order to make a flashy entrance or rescue a kitten stuck on top of the Luxor pyramid. The Orbic Air flight school sees enrollees from first flights all the way to commercial-pilot certificates with guidance from expert instructors.

16700 Roscoe Blvd
Van Nuys,
CA
US