An aviation vacation

Fly through the air with some real top guns

by Kali Love
A aerobatic airplanes twists through the air.
Fighter Combat International in Mesa allows anyone to dip, twist and soar. — Photo courtesy Aviation Performance Solutions

When I am on vacation, I tend to do things that I wouldn’t or couldn’t ordinarily do. And I’ve just added another must-do to my list—become a fighter or aerobatic pilot for the day at Fighter Combat International in Mesa, Arizona. The business was started by a military fighter pilot turned airline pilot who wanted to give everyone the chance to experience aviation adventure. Each pilot at Fighter Combat International is a NATO fighter pilot. Customers get to fly the Extra 300L airplane—an aerobatic aircraft, complete with smoke and dual controls.

Tara Ransbury, an owner and vice-president of business development for Fighter Combat International, said customers are welcomed into the squadron. They can then pick a customized call sign—like Goose or Maverick—and will go by that name for the duration of the day. A half-day introduction to air combat manoeuvres will cover tactical situations, offensive and defensive formation and high-speed, low-altitude flybys. And most of the actual flight time belongs to the customer—it is a truly realistic air combat mission.

“The client gets to fly 75 per cent of their flight,” said Ransbury. “There are three scored engagements. They get points, depending on how quickly they get a ‘kill’ and who gets killed. When they come back to land, they do a high-speed flyby.”

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