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Editor’s Note: For dRTB’s Health & Happiness Issue 2021, Mary Lou Janson explores the many ways in which Florida is the perfect destination for checking off lifetime bucket lists — whether you’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime adventures on land, underwater, in the sky or on the racetrack.

Do you yearn to take flight?

Introductory training flights are offered by Tampa Bay Aviation as a means to teach first-timers the joys of soaring into the air via plane or copter.

The hour-long, hands-on instruction at Clearwater Airpark offers students their choice of Single Engine Cessna 172 or high performance Cirrus SR22 planes, or Robinson R22 or Robinson 44 helicopters. 

A side view of the Cirrus SR222.

Airplane lessons begin with pre-takeoff ground training covering fundamentals of flying and a safety briefing. An instructor accompanies you through an inspection of the aircraft before boarding and reviewing flight controls.

Then it’s time for the 45-minute flight. With the instructor’s assistance, you control the plane and guide it through turns, climbs, descents and other basic maneuvers. And don’t worry: at any time you can hand over full control to the licensed pilot.

For helicopters, the first half hour is devoted to simulator training, and the remaining 30 minutes of training take place in the air.

The Robinson R44 copter.

The R44 helicopter can accommodate friends if you care to have them along for the ride. Lessons on that model are $319 vs. $189 for the small helicopter. The more luxurious of the two airplanes is the Cirrus SR22. That lesson is $179 vs. $99 for the Cessna.

The copter control panel.

Trainings can count toward FAA minimum flight training license requirements.

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