You too can pilot a fighter jet: Incredible flying experiences across the U.S.

Feb 29, 2020

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You don’t have to be a trained fighter pilot to fly like one. If you’ve dreamed of looping through the sky on a fighter plane, there are experiences across the United States that let you sit in the cockpit and even take the controls yourself. (You will, of course, be accompanied by a trained pilot, so you can’t get into too much trouble up there.)

Here are some companies that let you take to the skies — many of which are located in cities where you might already be traveling, like Orlando and Las Vegas. The best part? You’ll get to fly and interact with former and current commercial, Air Force, and even NASA pilots during your adventure.

Arizona: Fighter Combat International

Aircraft: Extra 300L

What you’ll do: This Phoenix-based company offers a variety of programs, from a 20-minute “power ride” to a two-day “Wingman Program” that includes two flights, ground-training sessions, mission debriefs, and notes from trained pilots. Short flights leave the flying to the pros, while longer programs allow you to fly the plane yourself.

What it costs: $715-$2,315 per person, depending on the program

How to book: All experiences can be booked on Fighter Combat International’s website. Use a credit card to book in order to rack up points — as you should any time your feet leave the ground.

Related: TPG flies a 777 flight simulator at Delta’s headquarters

California: MiGFlug

Aircraft: L-39 Albatros

What you’ll do: MiGFlug is a Switzerland-based company that offers fighter jet experiences all over the world — including one in Novograd, Russia where you can fly a MiG-29. For an experience closer to home, head to the Van Nuys Airport in California, about an hour drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Book a 45- or 60-minute flight and you’ll try aerobatics and combat tactics like loops or a split-s. You’ll also be able to try an extreme low pass.

What it costs: $2,999 for a 45-minute flight or $3,499 for a 60-minute flight; souvenir photos are, of course, available for extra

How to book: Book online with MiGFlug

Other locations: MigFlug also offers flight experiences in St. Petersburg, Florida and in Harrison, New York, in Westchester County

Florida: Warbird Adventures

Aircraft: T-6 Texan or TP-40 Warhawk

What you’ll do: This Kissimmee flight school and aircraft museum, located near Orlando, offers flying experiences with an added twist; here, you’ll sit in the cockpit of vintage aircraft and take the controls yourself. Warbird Adventures is the only flight school in the world that lets you fly a rare TP-40; the company claims that there are only five left in existence. Flights on the T-6 include aerobatics.

What it costs: Choose from 15-, 30-, 45-, or 60-minute flights on either aircraft with prices that range from $990 to $2,850 on the TP-40 Warhawk or $290 to $790 to fly the T-6 Texan.

How to book: Book online with Warbird Adventures

Related: 8 of the most challenging airport approaches for pilots

Nevada: Sky Combat Ace

Aircraft: Super Decathlon 8KCAB or Extra 330 LC

What you’ll do: Just outside of Las Vegas, this Henderson, Nevada company lets you try aerobatics, combat moves, or a combination of the two as you zoom over the desert. Its most popular offering is the 2.5-hour Top Gun experience — a no-brainer considering that the sequel to the “Top Gun” film, which opens in June, 2020, was filmed in Nevada. The program includes an opportunity to fly backward or do a hammerhead stall, among other tricks.

What it costs: Flights in the Super Decathlon, which can do fewer aerobatic stunts, start at just $299 per person and are good for fliers who just want to sample the experience; flights involving advanced aerobatics go up to about $2,000 per person; the Top Gun experience costs $699 per person.

How to book: Reserve online at Sky Combat Ace’s website. Gift cards are available.

Other locations: Sky Combat Ace also offers flights in San Diego, California

Related: How pilots avoid runway overruns

Featured photo by zeynep boğoçlu/Getty Images

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