Though Laura Wood leads a busy life as a designated Enrolled Agent and cofounder, with her husband, of Florida-based National Accounting and Management Services, or NAMS, the October Accountant of the Month doesn’t forget to stop and smell the roses. In fact, she makes a point of it, when flying above them in her powered parachute.
“I talk on the radio when I’m flying, about the wildflowers,” Wood said of communicating with her fellow aviators, who share the airstrip and airspace of her Geneva, Fla., neighborhood. “They say, ‘What flowers?’ I say, ‘You should smell them. Go lower and smell them.’”
[IMGCAP(1)]It’s an attentiveness she shares with her husband Joe Pires, who first signed them up for classes after spotting a powered parachute flying above his car on the I-75.
After their first session, they bought a lightly used machine, which includes a motor and parachute, and Wood describes as a kind of bicycle in the sky. As such, in-flight pedaling is weather-sensitive and dependent on low wind. When high gusts once grounded the couple’s machine and others during an air show expo, Pires’s interest was again piqued when gyroplanes—more akin to aerial “jet skis”—were given clearance.
And just like that, Wood and Pires owned two aircraft and the respective pilot licenses for each—but not the home storage space. In the meantime, the machines were stowed in a trailer parked in the private airstrip community where members of the couple’s flying club owned land. When one of the community’s 14 lots of land went on the market, they pounced.
On a napkin, the couple drew out the design for their future hangar-home hybrid. In early 2009, that small-scale vision was realized in an “Amish barn-raising with power tools,” after more than a year of work and the help of a few familiar faces.
The unique home began in two parts: a kit for a 50-by-60-foot metal building and a 50-foot wide hydraulic door.
“They arrived like an erector set on a tractor-trailer, and we had to build a house out of it,” Wood recalled. “We had a lot of specialty contractors. Our firm works with small to medium-sized businesses doing corporate and personal tax returns. Whenever possible, we tried to use those clients. We had an electrician client do our electrical work. One is a generator and power equipment seller; we got the generator from them.”
Wood and Pires displayed the fruition of this team effort in a YouTube video that soon had the Home & Garden Television cable channel calling.
[IMGCAP(2)]Producers from HGTV’s “Extreme Homes” were attracted to the home’s deceptive façade— a porch, French doors and rocking chairs, idyllically facing a grassy runway that, with the push of a button, lifted into a hangar door revealing the couple’s “toys.” The other side of the two-story, three-bedroom home faces a lake (which Wood rarely flies above for fear of her motor dying mid-flight).
Located 40 minutes from NAMS’s Altamonte Springs location, the house also has two full-fledged offices for when Wood and Pires, a Certified Financial Planner, want to work from home on their firm’s bookkeeping, accounting, tax and financial planning services—though Wood said she doesn’t too often.
The “Extreme Homes” episode eventually aired in early October, but minus one key sound bite that Wood remembered got the show’s interviewer and cameramen laughing. She suspects it was omitted to keep the show “family-friendly.”
“People always say, ‘how was your flight,’” she recalled telling the camera, prompting her to think back on her zig-zagging, hour-long flights where she stresses journey over destination. “And I say, ‘It was great. I had my “airgasm.”’”
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