From catapulting flaming soldiers over castle walls to sitting on active geysers, humans have long been fixated on flying through the air. Absorb the wonderment of flight with today’s Groupon: for $99, you get a one-person, one-hour helicopter lesson or a 15-minute chopper tour for up to three people at Silverhawk Aviation Academy in Caldwell (up to a $250 value).
Silverhawk Aviation Academy enables those considering self-piloting a rotorcraft to test the training airs with a one-hour lesson. A half hour of groundwork training with a certified flight instructor prepares novice copter pilots for a solid takeoff, followed by a half hour of higher-than-building, hands-on hovering in a small helicopter (a $150 value) or, for air travelers who weigh more than 240 pounds, a larger helicopter (a $250 value). Like cellular-phone minutes and reusable cake slices, the airtime is good toward further flight training and certification. Once guest pilots are equipped with flying experience, intimidating mountainside roads will feel traversable and future flights will provide an opportunity to tell the ticket agent you really prefer the pilot's chair.
During the 15-minute tour, up to three people and their esteemed, professional pilot will turn into bird's-eye viewers. The chopper will float above downtown Caldwell before chugging over to Lake Lowell in the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, tracing part of the shoreline to the dam. Set up a game of flying-time bingo to incentivize copter-mates to spot the park's abundant beavers, incidental elk, or an uncommon mountain lion.
Silverhawk Aviation’s owner, Catherine Rad Weber, built a school not only to teach people how to fly, but to learn to love their wings as well. Her comprehensive curriculum challenges students to fly at high altitudes, in different weather conditions, and over diverse terrain, training helicopter pilots who will be comfortable in the cockpit anywhere in the world. The program includes hands-on experience in caring for the rides, moving them in and out of hangars, and safely washing them without getting soap in their eyes.
Whether training or touring, visitors receive eyefuls of southern Idaho’s diverse geological features. The helicopters surmount rugged mountains, speed over mesas and high deserts, and ride air currents above rivers that wind their way into deep canyons. Apart from stunning the brain’s beauty receptors, this splendor provides a natural obstacle course against which more experienced pilots test their skill, zipping around rock spires or hopping the feet of their craft neatly through pristine fields of tire plants.