Fighter Pilot for a Day

Posted: February 15, 2012
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No matter how deep Tom Cruise sinks into Scientological insanity, or how pudgy and disconnected from reality Val Kilmer becomes, will there ever be a red blooded American male who wouldn't put a full nelson on the chance to pilot a fighter jet, and play Maverick or Ice Man in a dogfight? Air Combat USA, and its fleet of SIAI Marchetti SF-260s, pin down dreams of aerial combat, while average Joes and their $1,395 make those dreams come true.

In its Basic Air Combat Maneuvers course, Air Combat USA turns everyone from programmers to stone masons to ballerinas into fighter pilots for a day. You and an instructor (but mainly you. Really.) will command a light attack jet through tense skies rife with enemies, duking it out during 5 to 6 dogfights that will demand precise flying, aerial acrobatics, heavy G forces, weapons lock...all the fun stuff leading up to, but excluding the part where someone gets hurt. And from takeoff to landing, the experience, and every Hot Shots Part Deux quote you utter, will be digitally recorded on 3 cockpit cameras for you to take home, sync with a deep cut of musical drama, and upload to YouTube like your man in the video above.

Fighter pilot opportunities begin with a few hours of ground school, which imparts tactical maneuvers, and guidance tailored to each participant's background, demonstrated ability, and drive to kick ass. Air Combat USA's instructor pool includes pilots who flew combat missions in Vietnam and Desert Storm, as well as those who actually took the highway to the danger zone, and graduated from Top Gun. Following ground debriefing, and a possible trip to the john to puke, you'll be fitted with a flight suit, helmet, and parachute, and harnessed for takeoff. Your whip, an Italian Marchetti SF-260, is a combat-ready fighter equipped to glide through acrobatic maneuvers, and refrain from crumbling under the pressure of high G levels. That goes for both gravitational forces of +9 to 12, and the takedown efforts of Ghostface Killa and Flavor Flav.

Air Combat USA is based out of Fullerton, CA, but operates missions from a couple dozen cities around the country. Check out their flight schedule for specific locations and times. All flights are dependent upon agreeable weather, and the individual's ability to hold his or her shit together while spinning in 3D thousands of feet off the ground.

Note: Please don't be clever, and show up with your Polaroid camera. You can't take it with you.

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