As we have mentioned many times, here at Staycations California, we like to give you a firsthand account of the activity we participate in or a close look at the places we visit. It is no fun just to write about it, we have to experience it and report back to you.
With that in mind, here is a firsthand account of our recent experience at the Flightdeck in Anaheim, California. This has been in the top five of our experiences which include, skydiving, ride-along in a Nascar going 200 miles per hour, Jetlev, and parasailing.
At Flightdeck they have 8 fighter jet simulators and a flight simulator based on the Boeing 737-800. You get to sit in the simulator and experience the controls as if you are in an actual F-16.
When you first get there they take you into the briefing room to teach you how to use the controls before you get into the actual simulator. The right hand control is responsible for lift, dive, turning, brakes, as well as the guns and rockets. On the left side is your thrust handle mostly used for take-offs and landings. They teach you the speeds needed for take-off and landing as well as how to turn the airplane. You also learn how to spot your targets on the screen by their call numbers. So in advance you know everyone’s jet number.
At first, it was too much information and I thought I was going to be a bumbling idiot trying to remember everything. Luckily they give you about a ten minute instruction ride in the simulator so you can get familiar with the controls. The instructors are extremely nice and you feel no pressure at all.
Now it is time to leave the briefing room and enter the simulator. The simulators themselves are off the ground and you have to climb a small ladder to get into the cockpit. I am sure this was designed to give you the feel of actually entering a real jet. They even provide flight suits and helmets for the full experience, although you don’t have to wear them.
As you enter the cockpit, the space is small and tight but not overwhelmingly so. I have to admit I was a little nervous at first as I wasn’t sure if I would feel claustrophobic or not, but that wasn’t the case. The cockpits seem to accommodate any size person although they have restrictions if the person is too small. Some kids wouldn’t be able to see the screen.
The moment of truth would be when the canopy closed over your head and you were actually encapsulated in the small cockpit. It turned out to be no big deal as you were excited to get on with it and fly!! You are supplied with headphones so you can radio the instructors at anytime to get you out of the plane. The same headphones allow you to talk to fellow competitors as well as hear what the instructors are saying.
Time to Fly!
Soon after the canopy closes, a large screen appears and the simulation begins. On the practice run, the first thing you do is take off in pairs. All nervousness disappeared as now I was ready to fly a F-16!…well sort of.
On take-off, you try to remember all of the directions, however the instructors gently remind you of air speed, altitude, or if your decent is too low or high. They only chime in once in awhile, most of the time they leave you alone.
Once you are given the o.k. from the control tower to take off, you accelerate and speed down the runway. Then it is time to lift the nose up and start flying!!!!!
Now we are in the air getting a feel for everything and it wasn’t so bad. You can easily handle the controls while making adjustments as well as searching for your targets.
We flew around for about 10 minutes getting acclimated to the controls but now it was the time to get into the dog fight. Off we go into battle with newly supplied rockets and gun ammo. Once you find the other F-16’s, it was time to track them down and shoot them off the screen. The planes had to be within 4 -5 miles of your jet for you to lock onto the target. Unfortunately, you can waste a few rockets shooting too soon. I did manage to shoot down 4 planes and one was fellow Staycationer JoJo, who I saw go up in flames. I couldn’t help but giggle over the intercom.
Unfortunately, I got shot down a few times and I had to close my eyes as I pummeled to the ground. I think I heard Staycationer Glenn say,”Got ya!” So after that, I was looking for his number to get revenge. Sadly I heard the control tower tell me I was out of rockets. I should have stayed clear from him anyway, he got the second best score during our round. They do re-supply you with rockets and you can also shoot your guns but you have to be close enough to use them.
After some fun flying and gun battles lasting about 45 minutes, it was time for landing. Up ahead sat the runway so as you approached, you had to make sure you were lined up correctly and your air speed was within the right range. You also had to watch the altitude as not to land too soon or over run the landing strip.
The first landing I kept the plane steady and on target. My airspeed and altitude were correct and I softly landed on the runway. I dipped the nose down, pulled the throttle back, and started to put on the brakes. I came to a stop just in time and was ecstatic that the first landing was a success! I would walk out of there with my head held high!
Oh, but no, they had to let us do it again! For most, that is a good thing but this time my approach was too low, in fact the tower told me I was going into the water. So I abruptly pulled up the nose and gained some altitude. However, the runway was coming on quickly and now my airspeed was too fast. I pulled back the throttle and tried to keep my plane on track, but all of this overcompensating just got me in more and more trouble. In the end my wing hit the run-way and I witnessed my own plane going up in fire and smoke. What just happened? I had a perfect landing not 5 minutes ago.
From a perfect landing to a disastrous one and I just ruined a multimillion dollar plane. They happily reminded me that they take personal checks.
The End of Combat Briefing
We received a briefing at the end by our instructor Rabbit (his call sign). He gave us our points on a sheet of paper and of course they were on the control board for all to see. I had 4 kills, one good landing, and one failure. They said the average for a first timer was 0-5 kills so I was o.k. with my score.
It is a casual atmosphere and Rabbit made it fun so you didn’t feel any pressure. However, when you are in the simulator it is game on!! All were in on the fight except for Staycationer Jojo who was off on her own, flying randomly somewhere in the countryside.
If you do this once, you can skip the instructions and go right into the simulators on subsequent visits. They also have a Boeing 737 which I think would be fun to try.
Also, you can bring a guest who can hang out in the Officers Club and watch all the aerial action on 10 large LCD screens.
Flightdeck features state of the art simulators, air-to air combat, landing and take-offs and offers several mind-bending missions and event packages for groups 6 to 80.
From their website:
Flightdeck is open to the general public with special programs for corporate groups, team building, birthday parties and unique bachelor or bachelorette parties. Consistently voted as one of the top 10 things to do in Anaheim and Orange County. Roger Out!
Photos:J.Schmidt Cell Phone
Staycationer JoJo gets us doing all of these fun things.