Thanks to the latest technology, you can climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet and discover the tricks to taking off, barrel rolls, nose dives, landing, and maybe a bit of crashing in the middle.
Firstly, here’s my favourite jet fighter experience day available in the UK today.
Alasdair’s recommended jet fighter sim experience
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This jet fighter simulator is clearly the best! It’s the UK’s ONLY jet fighter sim with hydraulics so it costs a bit more, but the feeling of sitting in a moving simulator makes this a no-brainer.
Is a simulator as much fun as a real jet?
No, but then real jets aren’t much fun. If you’ve seen people having a ride in the back of a real fighter jet, it’s not as enjoyable as you’d expect. If you’re not accustomed to the huge G forces and disorientating movement, it can be dizzying and can even make you unconscious. That’s probably why no experience companies offer a ride in a real fighter jet. (They also cost £millions, so no one could afford to buy it anyway.)
What I will say is there are better fighter plane experiences available – take a look at the ‘fly with a fighter pilot’ for example. However if your focus is on being a fighter PILOT rather than sitting in the back seat while a real fighter pilot flings you about in the sky, then this simulator is fine as an inexpensive gift.
So what happens on the fighter jet experience?
First thing’s first, don’t expect the simulator to move. You’re in the cockpit of a real jet, with screens in front of you, but there are no hydraulics to throw you about. If you want movement in a plane simulator, you’ll need one of the full motion experiences which cost a bit more, and are focused on the experience of being a passenger jet pilot. There is only one jet sim with hydraulics and movement in the UK and I really recommend you check this out. Click here to find out more.
Having said that, the whole simulator experience is curiously realistic and as close to being a real fighter pilot as you’re going to get. Your instructor will give you a pre-flight briefing before kitting you out in a full flight suit with anti-G pants, helmet, mask and headphones or a radio.
They strap you tightly into the ejector seat in the cockpit, and your instructor will normally sit in the seat behind. The instructor can give you instructions about which buttons to press (and not to press).
You’ll taxi down the runway, take off, fly about, practise some manoeuvres and then land at your chosen airport. Your instructor is on-hand throughout to give advice and instruction, because obviously flying a jet fighter is more than complicated.
Here’s a list of all the UK jet fighter simulators available in the UK today:
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The age limit is usually 13 years and over, and minimum height is 5ft. The cockpit is quite snug though, so if you’re a hulking 7ft rugby player, it might be a bit of a squeeze for you. (But then everything is a squeeze if you’re that big :-)).