Florida Life - Lifestyle
Taking to the Skies
Jason Atkins founded Tui Lifestyle five years ago to help out people like himself who wanted to move into a residence without having to deal with shopping for furnishings. His company offers complete lifestyle decorating packages not only at two showrooms in Miami but also at a new one in New York’s SoHo district. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Atkins was a Special Forces sniper.
Today he flies helicopters in his spare time, specifically a Bell Jet Ranger 203, which he leases in a fractional ownership program. “It’s very relaxing,” he says. “There’s a sense of control, responsibility and freedom.”
» Most fun: “Taking a date on a flight and going to dinner.”
» Wish list: “Flying in the Grand Canyon and spending three days camping.”
French transplant and restaurateur Stéphane Lang-Willar, the namesake of Stéphane’s American & French Cuisine, has spent more than 30 years delighting diners. “In order to live well,” he says, “one must eat well.” In his down time, Lang-Willar has been flying helicopters for 30 years.
» Most exciting moment: “When I landed on top of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe.”
» Favorite journey: “I always particularly enjoyed leaving Geneva for Corsica Island in the Mediterranean Sea, flying half of the time over the Alps and the other half crossing the sea at a low altitude, watching dolphins and whales in the water.”
» Flight wish list: Following the internationally renowned Dakar Rally — an off-road vehicle race for pros and amateurs that goes from Paris to Dakar, Senegal.
Thomas Edwards decided to learn how to fly after finding himself traveling more often around Florida and the Southeast for work and outside projects. “The challenges of efficiently getting in and out of parts of Florida and the surrounding states led me to the decision to learn to fly a private plane,” he says. Today, he’s part-owner of a private six-seat, single-engine Piper Lance.
» Rough rider: “One of the first flights I took after getting my pilot’s license was to the Bahamas. We went through extremely heavy rainstorms, which caused significant turbulence — at times to the point where it was hard to keep my hands on the controls. Upon arrival in the Bahamas, (we discovered) the rain had taken the paint off the leading edge of the wings.”
» Shaky start: Edwards scheduled an early morning flight physical at the beginning of his training — on Sept. 11, 2001. “My plans to learn to fly were put on hold for a while.”
» Perspective: “Flying in a small private plane gives you the ability to see the extraordinary beauty of our state and its coasts. (It makes) you proud to be a Floridian and an American.”