There's something magical about John's Pass Village and Boardwalk. Maybe it's the quaint shops on one side, and the sprawling cerulean expanse of the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Or perhaps it's the red, white, and blue parasails that take up to three passengers at a time high above the water, where they can finally retrieve their car keys from that seagull. At the other end of those flying stars and stripes is an expert crew aboard a Coast Guard–certified and inspected boat. Should Eagle Parasail's patrons want another adventure, Eagle Parasail's sister companies Lady Godiva Fishing Charters and John Pass Waverunners are located on the same dock.
In more than 100 locations around the country, ThrillZown's staff facilitates adrenaline-filled excursions full of extreme water, air, and land adventures. Under the supervision of experts, brave souls defy gravity as they skydive, hang-glide, bungee jump, or play films of apples falling off trees in reverse. On land, crews harness the power of horses, stock cars, and snowmobiles; in the water, groups navigate whitewater rapids or explore aquatic depths as they scuba dive or surf.
“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Al Roker!” is what someone might have said if they were at Wallaby Ranch when the _Today Show_’s own weatherman chose it as the launching pad for his first hang-gliding experience. Al Roker’s flight was just one of more than 30,000 safe and incident-free excursions launched under the watchful eye of veteran hang-glider pilot and owner of Wallaby Ranch, Malcolm Jones. Together with a permanent crew of nine other pilots, instructors, and technicians, Malcolm leads aerotow hang-gliding flights above the lush Florida landscape of his ranch. The fleet of planes tows hang-gliders into the air, at which point they are released to float above the trees and drift smoothly down to the ground like a sleepy eagle.
Wallaby Ranch has full camping and RV accommodations on site, allowing groups and families to plan extended stays as they learn to master the aerial art. The crew prepares fresh community breakfast and lunch, and a 27,000-gallon swimming pool cools off visitors after a hard day’s glide. Guest can clamor up the climbing wall, while children can caper about the playground. Mountain-bike and walking trails abound, winding through the terrain and plunging hikers into the surrounding, native wildlife.
Flying in one of Quest Air Soaring Center's hang gliders is like transforming into a giant bird. The cockpit, floor, and engine of a traditional aircraft are all stripped away, leaving nothing but unparalleled views of Lake County. In good weather, visibility stretches to both of Florida's coasts and reveals everything in between: Disney, Universal Studios theme park, and even Cape Canaveral. Quest's certified hang-gliding instructors teach new fliers to navigate this elevated terrain during tandem discovery flights that introduce basic concepts such as turning and accelerating. As students progress, they move on to solo flights and more advanced skills, such as navigating thermals and rescuing pedestrians from the tops of broken ferris wheels.
Leading these aerial excursions are Quest Air Soaring Center's experienced hang-gliding pilots and instructors. When not soaring through the air, they spend time on their company's private lake, where gear for fishing, paddle boating, and other aquatic activities are available to Quest Air's customers free of charge.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.
Humans weren't born with wings, but that hasn't stopped us from beleiveing we were meant to fly. That's where hang gliding comes in.
The winged apparatuses at Hang Gliding Central Florida stretch hang gliders lengthwise in a harness, allowing them to control the glider by moving backward, forward, or to the side to climb, descend, or turn. From their perch, pilots can soar above the treetops, taking in the sweeping views of their surroundings or comparing the emerging bald spots on aging eagles. They can also ease into the sport thanks to safety-focused lessons that include tandem rides with an instructor.