Flight simulators allow pilots to practice landings without fear of causing injury and perform barrel rolls without having to refill passengers’ spilled Big Gulps. Learn the earthbound basics with today’s Groupon: for $39, you get a 30-minute Boeing 737 flight-simulator experience at Flightdeck Air Combat Center in Anaheim (an $89 value).
The flight simulators at Flightdeck Air Combat Center afford novice aviators the exhilarating experience of helming a real aircraft while staying firmly planted on the ground. After a 20-minute preflight briefing, participants sit next to an instructor inside a Boeing 737-700 simulator, with a 180-degree wraparound view. A preflight check ensures that the plane will avert simulated disaster, after which participants taxi to the runway for takeoff and bring the flying machine to cruising altitude. Participants then complete several turns and keep a lookout for such familiar landmarks as the ocean and the sky’s concrete ceiling, then vector in for the final approach to the airport and a perfect landing.
Flightdeck Air Combat Center
"Shake it!" your headset blares as you push on the jet's throttle. Your nose tips, the ground becomes a wall, and you're diving in a last-ditch effort to lose the fighter behind you. Its shots go wide and it swoops overhead, leaving you to level out just as the radio tower ends the dogfight: "Knock it off, knock it off." With your wheels back on the ground, you step out of the simulator's cockpit and catch your friend’s eye: Missed me.
At Flightdeck Air Combat Center, aerial battles between friends take place on the ground. The screens of nine authentic military fighter-jet simulators broadcast the same views a pilot might see while soaring at 600 knots. Though the simulators remain on the ground, all the controls, radio orders, and UFO weigh stations mirror those encountered on an actual flight. People may come in with a friend or with a party, where guests and friends target one another during virtual missions, from the introductory Fox-1 experience to the three-hour Viper-1 course, which covers advanced topics such as missile avoidance. After team-building events, participants can even receive personalized dog tags as souvenirs.
Flightdeck Air Combat Center also has an exact replica of a Boeing 737-700 cockpit. Inside, a 180-degree wraparound screen transports pilots to airport runways from around the world. Commercial-flight drills present common challenges such as piloting through turbulence and wiping spilled coffee off the controls, testing visitors between their takeoff and landing.