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Anaheim: Fly An F-16 Fighter Jet Without Ever Leaving the Ground

Updated on May 11, 2011

Step Into The Cockpit of an F-16 and Experience the Thrill of Air-to-Air Combat

F-16 simulator preparing for take-off.
F-16 simulator preparing for take-off. | Source

Have you ever wanted to don a flight suit, longed to step into the cockpit of an F-16 fighter jet, or dreamed about piloting a plane in air-to-air combat? Well now you can do all of these things without ever leaving the city of Anaheim (or the ground!)

The Flightdeck Air Combat Center allows wannabe pilots, from age 13 and up, to experience the thrill and challenge of performing aerial maneuvers, air-to-air combat, and both ground and aircraft carrier landings. Their authentic F-16 flight simulators allow you to experience what you could only dream about in the past.

No experience is necessary, and The Flightdeck offers programs for both beginners as well as more experienced pilots. The entire experience will last almost two hours, and consists of a pre-flight briefing by a flight instructor, an in-cockpit instrument and control orientation, plus 40 to 70 minutes of flight time, depending on the mission you choose. Full radio communication with the tower is available during the entire flight.

The Flightdeck offers birthday parties, corporate team building sessions, and a squadron program for "frequent flyers." They welcome visitors and observers, and offer a series of screens in the lobby that allow you to watch, and listen to, the missions in progress. An additional computer screen shows the pilots' scores in various categories, as well as their overall ranking at the end of the mission. Printed copies of the scores are given to each pilot after their mission, giving bragging rights to the winners in each category.

On accompanying my husband and son to The Flightdeck, I found the staff to be extremely friendly and knowledgeable. I watched (and listened) from the lobby as a controller in the tower had to talk one pilot through the entire mission. I heard no frustration on the controller's part at all, and found him to be very helpful to this rookie pilot. To my absolute delight, I also found The Flightdeck to be very accommodating to the paparazzi (me.) I love to take pictures, and view just about everything in life as a photo opportunity. The staff allowed me into the briefing room, tower, and the simulator area to take all of the photos that I wanted.

The price for this experience is very reasonable. It is about the same as an average priced ticket to a sporting event. Only here, parking and drinks (cups of water from the watercooler) are free. At $69 per person (at the time of publication,) this is an experience well worth the cost. My husband and son also received $10 off coupons to use on their next visit.

Pre-Flight Instrument and Control Orientation

Pre-flight instrument and control orientation in an F-16 flight simulator.
Pre-flight instrument and control orientation in an F-16 flight simulator. | Source

The Briefing Room

The briefing room at The Flightdeck in Anaheim, CA.
The briefing room at The Flightdeck in Anaheim, CA. | Source

The Tower

The tower at The Flightdeck in Anaheim, CA.
The tower at The Flightdeck in Anaheim, CA. | Source

Two Mission Display Screens in the Lobby

Two F-16 mission display screens.
Two F-16 mission display screens. | Source

Pilot Stats

F-16 fighter pilot stats.
F-16 fighter pilot stats. | Source

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    • profile image

      Kiki 

      3 years ago

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    • profile image

      Taran 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for shrnaig. Always good to find a real expert.

    • orangecountyjill profile imageAUTHOR

      OC Jill 

      7 years ago from Orange County, California

      I bet you would love it!

    • David Warren profile image

      David Warren 

      7 years ago from Nevada and Puerto Vallarta

      As a forty something year old single engine pilot I am certain I would be as thrilled as the kids here. Definitely will be there the next time we go to Southern California!

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