I remember the first time I asked for something I knew was impossible to receive.  It was my birthday and I had been bugging my parents about wanting a horse. Even though we didn’t have a farm or any land, I thought they could make magic and give me a horse.  I still remember going into the garage and seeing horseshoes and a bale of hay.  I ran inside screaming to my mom, “you got me a horse!”  I remember her face and her, “don’t get your hopes up”…I did get my hopes up… the horseshoes were horseshoes, those used for throwing and the bale of hay was for target practice with my new bow and arrow.  I still have that bow and arrow.

The second time I remember going crazy with an idea was wanting to go to Florida State University to join their circus.  Our family vacationed in Callaway Gardens for several years and I experienced the FSU circus.  Every night during the summer, the FSU (Florida State University) circus would perform.  I bugged my parents for years to let me go to FSU so I could join the circus.  Still want to do that when I grow up.

FSU, Florida State University Circus tent photo by Kathy Miller

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Tallahassee with James and good friends, Rick and Joanne.  Their love for their alma mater takes them to all the home FSU football and many basketball games.  Before enjoying Joanne’s fabulous meal we visited the FSU campus to take pictures.  Of course my favorite place was the Circus Tent.

Chief Osceola and Renegade in front of Doak Campbell Stadium.

Doak Campbell Stadium and Chief Osceola and Renegade photo by Kathy Miller

FSU signature building, Westcott Building 

Westcott Building FSU photo by Kathy Miller

 Thank you Rick and Joanne for a lovely Thanksgiving.

Smoked Turkey photo by Kathy Miller

I have been thinking of some of the best gifts I have received over the years.  Probably one of the most unusual and fun was my Christmas gift from Clara (Aunt Vern).  She gave Dave and me powered hang gliding experiences from Hang Glide USA.  I am not fond of heights and just kept putting this trip off.  Finally Aunt Vern made the appointment and off we went to the Fernandina Beach Airport.

Looking in to the air strip Fernandina Beach Airport photo by Kathy Miller

After donning our flight suits

Clara dons flight suit for hang gliding photo by Kathy Miller

and signing our lives away,

Dave sign consent form photo by Kathy Miller

we were ready to board The Trikes.

The Trikes-powered Hang Gliding at Fernandina Beach photo by Kathy Miller

“Powered hang gliding, otherwise known as trike flying, is an experience in freedom and excitement that is unmatched.  Flying up to a thousand feet or more, you will experience aerial views unlike any other form of aviation.”  Air Amelia.

Clara and Dave went first so I could take photos.  (I wasn’t nervous or anything like that).

Dave with his color coordinated Trike photo by Kathy Miller

Dave gets buckled in and waits for instructions from certified, FAA licensed pilot, Kent Heitzinger.

Dave and pilot, Kent Heitainger president of Hang Glide USA photo by Kathy Miller

Clara gets instructions from Gene Monnier, certified, FAA licensed pilot.

Clara and her pilot, Gene photo by Kathy Miller

Trike controls photo by Kathy Miller

Clara and Gene leave hangar area photo by Kathy Miller

Two trikes leaving for flight photo by Kathy Miller

Clara and Gene taxiing down the runway photo by Kathy Miller

Dave's trike taxiing down runway for takeoff photo by Kathy Miller

My first glimpse of Dave and Kent after takeoff.

Dave and Kent right after takeoff photo by Kathy Miller

And here comes Clara and Gene.

Clara and Gene takeoff photo by Kathy Miller

This small aircraft took off not long after the two Trikes.

a small aircraft takesoff right after the trikes photo by Kathy Miller

A cold front had come through the night before making for a beautiful fall day with clear, blue skies.  The wind was a little gusty and it was very cold up there (a little over 1000 feet.)

I was quite happy when my 2 Trike lovers came back into sight about 30 minutes later.

Dave and Clara with pilots make it back to Fernandina Beach airstrip photo by Kathy Miller

Safe landing for Dave and Kent.

Dave and Kent first ones down photo by Kathy Miller

With Clara and Gene bringing up the rear.  

Clara and Gene bring up the rear on this flight photo by Kathy Miller

Dave and Kent had a great experience.

Dave and Kent, FAA licensed pilot on return photo by Kathy Miller

Gene and Clara ace it.

Gene brings back Clara safe and sound photo by Kathy Miller

My turn.  Gene gets me settled in.  The passenger sits behind the pilot in a perch.  We have full communication through head phones and microphone.  Gene explained everything as we took off, flew south over the Omni Plantation and my home.   

Kathy gets buckled in photo by Kathy Miller

Next we turned east, then north and descended to about 200 feet to fly the beach.  So much fun!  Waved to the few people walking the beach.  It was a very cold day for beachwalking.

We passed the Omni hotel, American Beach, The Ritz and all the homes along Fletcher.  Next came Fort Clinch, one of my favorite places.  To see it from above really puts it into perspective.  Looking north I saw the south end of another favorite place, Cumberland Island, Ga; home of the old Carnegie ruins, wild horses, Greyfield Inn…just a wild, pristine island.

I have no photos from my vantage point because I couldn’t take my camera with me.  I was holding on for dear life.  At least I did hold the steering mechanism and felt like I was flying.

Kathy and pilot Gene ready for takeoff photo by Kathy Miller

Up Up and Away over Amelia Island photo by Kathy Miller

Thank you to Gene Monnier for taking me up in the sky and for the softest landing ever.  I was a little scared of the landing but Gene brought us down without even a bump.

My turn with pilot, Gene photo by Kathy Miller

Think I should reconsider the FSU circus.  I have learned to fly and might just succeed in the flying trapeze.  My family will remember the Christmas present I begged for years ago, the Spanish web.  Look it up at FSU Circus.

Watch for upcoming stories from my tailgating travels….And for more gift giving ideas….

For your Powered Hang Gliding Experience visit Air Amelia at www.airamelia.com

Come celebrate with me.  I’ll save you a seat at the table.


  • Joanne Astor says:

    So glad we could be together and celebrate thanksgiving. It is a time to be thankful for our blessings. Friends and family are at the top of my list. We are also happy that you can experience the place where we went to school and surrounding area. Tallahassee is a beautiful place!

    • I love the terrain around Tallahassee, gently rolling hills with beautiful old oaks. Very Old Florida. Also loved the FSU campus. Thank you again for a great couple of days. Also for being my traveling buddy.

  • Dave Kempf says:

    Wow, Kathy, what a fun experience. You & Dave are “troopers”.

    While it is almost the end of FB “Tailgating” Roundball Season is upon us. I can only speak for BBN (UK) Fans but Home Tailgating prior to tipoff is big among Cat Fans. Not only before games but at Half Time & Post Game as we listen to player interviews & Coach Cal’s comments. Plus we get reports of other scores around the Conference & nation.

    Your Tailgate recipes work just as well inside as out so consider hosting a “Tailgate” in your Home during Basketball Season.

    • You are so right Dave! I will be continuing tailgating and homegating recipes and ideas during the basketball season. Your Cats look so awesome. Think Duke might be good this year too! Don’t know about my Vols yet, but I will be rooting them on. Thanks always for your comments!

  • Clara Miller says:

    The hang gliding flight was so much fun and a great way to see our beautiful island. I do recommend you dress appropriately if you are doing it in the winter months. Gloves, heavy coat and warm socks are a must!!


  • Jane Flynn says:

    You’re brave, Kathy. I’m not ready for “new heights”! But, it may be a great gift for Jim for Christmas. Jane

  • Joy McCabe says:

    Thanks Kathy for mentioning the show.
    As for your flying, there is no way I could ever do that! Y’all are brave!

  • Sue Braddock says:

    Love the photos of the 3 of you flying on the trikes–I might have to look into that for Steve and I!

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