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 $70, you get a Discovery Flight lesson package from Thunderbird Aviation (a $139 value) in Eden Prairie and Crystal.
Thunderbird Aviation's experienced staff imparts fledgling fliers with a 30-minute ground-training session before guiding them on a 30-minute journey through the air. After absorbing flight basics on land, students will man a training aircraft, heading for the skies strapped in beside a trusty instructor who won't hog the armrest. The hands-on flight experience allows would-be pilots to take part in all parts of the flight from takeoff to landing. Apprentice-expert pairs will soar above the Earth as high as 2,500 feet in a roomy Cessna 172, enjoying the majesty of the open sky and stopping intermittently to skip rocks off tops of clouds. After the 30-minute joyride, pupils will make the descent back to solid ground to be rewarded with a postflight debrief session and a Thunderbird Aviation T-shirt (a $15 value).
Since 1962, Thunderbird Aviation has nested at Minneapolis’s Flying Cloud and Crystal airports, sending on-demand charters skyward, offering aircraft repairs and parts, and training new pilots. Composed of Cessna planes, the aviation agency’s fleet runs the gamut from light, sport aircraft to twin-engine Seminoles, and encompasses one of the state’s largest selections of instructional aircraft. Certified flight instructors accompany student pilots on their journeys. As novices approach pilot certification, they can augment their hours in the cockpit with time in an FAA-approved flight simulator, which is more useful than its unapproved counterpart, jumping on your bed while cawing.