At FIGHTER COMBAT INTERNATIONAL (FCI), customers are led to believe that they can come in off the street–with no flying experience whatsoever–and actually fly the aircraft in Air-to-Air Combat, just like a fighter pilot would. That is indeed TRUE. While some of our participants are very experienced fighter pilots (one arrived in his USAF flight suit, with his Weapons School Instructor patch on) who come to relive their past days of glory, most are just “everyday Joes” (and “Janes” too!) who want to try this fighter pilot thing firsthand…for the first time ever. In fact, no previous flying experience is required at all.
What Is the Fighter Pilot Experience Like?
Most first-time fliers find the use of the control stick to be very intuitive after a few minutes of practice. The control forces required to maneuver the aircraft are so light, no special upper-body strength is required. It’s like having power steering. Most pilots are amazed at the light touch required, and first-timers aren’t used to anything else…so it seems totally natural to them. The experience includes academics introducing the basics of flying the aircraft and Basic Fighter Maneuvers, which goes a long way to explain not only the principles of dogfighting, but also the theory behind it. With your new-found knowledge and a highly experienced instructor coaching you from the back seat, you will be quite prepared to do battle in the sky!
What is new to most novice fliers, is the actual movement of the aircraft through the air and the resulting forces/influences on the body. The aircraft’s motion in three dimensions is nothing more than a roller-coaster, where you are continually deciding where the tracks lead you. Many find the preoccupation with shooting down the “other guy” to be so self-consuming, they don’t even notice the many sensations on the body during maneuvering. While a longer fight can be taxing on the endurance; most find that the exhilaration of the fight keeps them “pumped up” throughout the engagement. All seem to thoroughly enjoy the competitive nature of striving for the “Kill” against their adversary.
How Do I Prepare?
Preparation for the flight is easy. Basically, be yourself! While there is information provided to help familiarize yourself with the tasks/strategies at hand; no major studying is required. We have people occasionally just walk in the door and sign up to fly. (I don’t recommend a huge meal just before flying.) Although you can’t fly in sandals, most people just wear tennis shoes. Lightweight, comfortable clothing works nearly year-round, as you will be provided a flight suit to wear. Customers need to be mature enough to operate a parachute, of size to fit in the cockpit, and able to comfortably get in and out of the aircraft without assistance. I once flew with someone celebrating his 90th birthday!
The most difficult aspect of the flight is trying to contain that smile on your face! You WILL enjoy this experience immensely! Our instructor corps covets these Advanced Air Combat missions, and look forward to them all week long. If instructing these types of missions gets us all pumped up, imagine how much you will enjoy participating! While we will provide an opponent if you schedule just for yourself, many find that the ultimate fun level is experienced when you fly combat against a loved one…be it a longtime friend, sibling, spouse, son, or daughter. Some great rivalries have shown up here (including a family of six: Dad, his four sons, and daughter-in-law to be). And of course, this is far more exciting than shooting paintballs at each other for a corporate outing! So, grab your favorite person (target), schedule an Advanced Air Combat Mission (AACM) ride, and show up for the time of your life! We also do aerobatic only rides as well for “conscientious objectors” who would prefer not to turn another human into “simulated” swiss cheese.