Blog 2 – Q & A

In answer to a few friends questions – the duration; feeling sick and the UK version….

At Air Combat USA they try teach you to be smooth rather than jerking it around and as you are the one in control and looking out ( not at the instruments), you are less likely to be sick. It’s like driving a car, you are generally motion sick as a passenger. Unlike the UK one, you have the stick for almost 100% of the time after take-off and before landing. Pulling Negative G is like going over a bridge fast, has no combat advantage and it is also the one that brings everything up from the cockpit floor and potentially the contents of your stomach upwards too, so this is not encouraged. I did manage to do it, but my head was swinging around the cockpit so much trying to eyeball the other guy, that I wasn’t aware of the sensation much. They have the passenger side lined with sick bags, but said they have more people greying out due too much G’s, than chucking up. This is where you lose your peripheral vision first and if it continues can black-out, they say it is rare but not uncommon. Again you are in control, so you can back off if you want.

Found that it was only on dogfight 4-5 that I felt I was begging to understand where the other fella was coming from, up until then my head was a windscreen wiper scanning everyway I could. I would have loved another 30 mins combat. We were in the air about 30mins on target practice and then 30 mins combat, total of just over an hour, it took us about 10 min on top of this to return.

Air Combat USA also fly those aerobatic specials calls ‘Extra’s’ too, but out of the west coast. They say they are faster and more manoeuvrable, but they are more maintenance hungry, so Combat USA don’t use them on the Spring/Autumn tours around the states. They tend to use them for people who had had a Marchetti flight or two already and want more of a buzz. For me the Marchetti’s were enough, additional speed would have been irrelevant.

They used to do Aerobatic only flights, but have said the dog fights are more fun, so they are concentrating on them. They also commented that the enjoyment factor with two friends going head to head is considerably more, they have about 30% of flights with known combatants.

Combat USA have mainly ex US Navy Carrier pilots, who then retired from airline service at 60 and come to them for some fun.

Not suggesting the UK one is inferior (after all we did win the Battle of Britain) but apart from a water bottle in the cockpit I couldn’t fault the US set up. I enjoyed the fact that we were taught to dog fight like the real thing, it was not an elaborate aerobatic set up, it was like paint-balling, deadly serious as no one really likes to loose. Once in the air every nasty trick was employed, the pilots were prompting and guiding us (LEFT/LEFT/TIGHTER/TIGHTER seemed to be constant said to me ).  I assume it was also the case in the other aircraft, the pilots don’t want to loose either ! It was surprisingly politically incorrect, yet seemed to be very safety conscious. Although my friend Mark, who has a private pilot’s licence was shocked by how close we were and was fazed by almost the whole thing, as all his Golden Rules were thrown out the window. I knew no better and therefore enjoyed myself considerably more and won.

The UK Topgun Bulldog is quite a bit cheaper and no Trans-Atlantic air tickets are needed ( we were there on business anyway)! I must say I enjoyed childlike feeling that I was in a Spitfire or Hurricane, rather than sat in something that looks like an over dressed traffic cone !