Flying is a lot like having a staring contest: even with utter concentration, you’ll never be better at it than birds. Go toe-to-beak with our winged companions with today's Groupon to Tailwheels Etc. in Winter Haven. Choose between two options:
- For $35, you get a 30-minute discovery flight (a $75 value).
- For $187, you get a 30-minute flight in a 1940 Stearman biplane (a $395 value).
Tailwheels Etc. hands cloud connoisseurs the keys to the heavens with flight school and sky-sampling programs. The discovery-flight option provides an intro flight lesson with an experienced, certified pilot. After going over the basics of radio communication and going over thorough safety instructions, aerial experts handle landing and takeoff. Once aloft, greenhorn aerialists can take the controls, affording the chance to tailgate migrating geese or settle into a passing comet's slipstream. Options for discovery-flight aircraft include the Piper Warrior or the Cessna Skyhawk (model 172).
Or, throw on a jaunty scarf, goggles, and devil-may-care toupee to experience the thrill of an open-cockpit 1940 Stearman biplane. Once they're up in the air, participants get their hands on the controls to skim around air currents and elucidate the Stearman's nickname, "The Barnstormer." Pilots seeking perspective on fluffy hills and rolling clouds have the option to relinquish controls for expert-piloted loops and rolls.
Though their flight school has racked up some impressive recognition—including the prestigious 2012 President's Award from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)—John Amundsen and his Tailwheels, Etc. team eschew pomp and circumstance in favor of fun. According to Jill W. Tallman of Flight Training magazine, you won't "see flight instructors in epaulets. In the summertime, everybody wears shorts and T-shirts—instructors and students alike." The crew hosts weekly cookouts to promote a welcoming, social atmosphere and has created a community room where budding aviators can learn from private pilots and former military and airline pilots.
As Tallman reported, Amundsen meant to retire in Florida after his aviation career but now finds himself happily running the family business. His son Jonathan has been flying since the age of 2 and heads up the aircraft-maintenance department with the help of his wife—flight instructor and mechanic Liz Amundsen. The couple restored their 1940 Stearman Kaydet so people could experience the thrill of flying an open-cockpit biplane. Their infant son Riley is currently training for an aviation career by plotting flight paths for the airplane mobile above his crib.
Tailwheels, Etc. is one of the first flight schools in the country to be accredited by the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA). The school specializes in an accelerated, two-week private pilot-training program that gets students into the air quickly and safely.
3000 21st St. NW
Winter Haven, Florida 33881Get Directions