Ventura Air Services' owner, Mike Tarascio, took his first private flight in 1981. It was nothing too glamorous, just a ride on a tiny four-seater plane that took him to an electronics conference in New Jersey. The experience ignited his passion for flying, though, and by 1982, he had purchased his first plane. That single plane snowballed into a small airline, then expanded further into Ventura Air Services.
Now, the company's pilots helm an extensive fleet, on charter flights or turn over the controls to aspiring aviators during airborne adventures. On one adventure, the client, overseen by an instructor, takes over the controls during the entire flight over New York City, while their guest passenger snaps photos and helps with Icarus-spotting. During another adventure, the Top Gun experience, the client can try his or her hand at the ultimate triathlon: piloting a plane, riding a motorcycle, and playing volleyball.
With high-tech, modern flight simulators and a fleet of advanced aircraft at their disposal, the instructors of Empire Flight Academy lead a host of trainings in the invigorating art of airborne transit. Authorized as a Cirrus, Diamond, Cessna, and Garmin G1000 education facility, Empire Flight holds courses that shuttle would-be cloud kickers toward their Private Pilot Certificate and Instrument Ratings through combined training on the ground, in the cockpit, and careful study of footage from Airplane!. Additionally, Empire Flight Academy’s offshoots—Empire Airways and Skyline Tours—offer ride-along sight-seeing jaunts of New York, as well as privately chartered flights.
Fully licensed by the New York State Department of Education, Allstar Bartenders Training educates students in the art and science of mixed-drink pouring and presentation. Apprentice mixologists get acquainted with the functions of different bar tools while learning which cocktails should be shaken, stirred, or whisked using a handful of uncooked angel-hair pasta. Allstar's seasoned tenders aid students in memorizing the recipes, garnishes, and matching glassware of the most popular concoctions. The school's classrooms resemble mock cocktail lounges with ample shot glasses and jukeboxes, giving students a realistic setting to practice drink vending. Allstar treats its graduates to complimentary lifetime job-placement assistance and refresher courses.
When combined, the thunderous rolling of balls, clattering of pins, and whip-like clashing of high-fives form the soundtrack for Maple Family Centers' string of family-owned alleys. Open seven days per week, each emporium's array of slicked lanes host everything from youth programs and leagues to birthday parties as competitors of all ages duel with or without bumpers. During cosmic bowling on weekend nights, Maple Family Centers honors the sport's discothèque origins with glowing lanes and thumping tunes. A full menu of pub fare re-energizes fatigued fingers, and on-site pro shops help improve players' games by providing the latest equipment or fitting older balls with new prescription glasses.
The American Airpower Museum couldn't have a more appropriate setting. More than six decades ago, its grounds were home to Republic Aviation. Here, a formidable assembly line?nicknamed "the Jug"?churned out more than 9,000 P-47 Thunderbolts, which helped fortify the Air Force during World War II. Today, the American Airpower Museum displays Thunderbolts in honor of the brave pilots that flew them during those crucial years. And just like the dinosaur skeletons in a natural-history museum, these exhibits come to life?during warm months, Thunderbolts often taxi out onto the runway and take off to the delight of the crowd.
The skies around American Airpower Museum showcase other prop- and jet-powered aircrafts dating from WWII to the present day. Ground-level exhibits, meanwhile, show off more aircraft and military vehicles, including tanks. The resident pilots even offer ride-alongs in an AT-6 or Waco aircraft. Visitors can also test the controls of a Cessna 310 for themselves inside a custom-built simulator.
"We do not carry Bud, Coors, or Miller."
So reads a line on the website of Croxley's Ale House, but it might as well be a mission statement: for more than 20 years?long before the crazes of drinking microbrews or having fun took off?thirsty patrons have headed to Croxley's for flavorful tastes of Long Island craft beers. Such dedication to serving local libations earned Chris Werle & Jeffry Piciullo the Pioneer Award at the 2013 Golden Tap Awards Gala, a testament to their "forward thinking" and dedicated spirit.
At all six locations throughout Long Island and New York, Croxley's Ale House serves local and high-end beer on tap paired with hearty feasts of hamburgers, pulled-pork sandwiches, and fish and chips. Along with sipping Belgian brews at the Smithtown location's open-air beer garden, visitors can gather for games around one of the more than 40 HD TVs or belly up to the bar for twenty-cent wing nights on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.