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Fates

Sky Combat Ace

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+Fates    53

Have you ever wanted to experience being a fighter pilot and experiencing the thrill of aerial combat, other than sitting at your desk playing a sim, then get out to Sky Combat Ace, based out of Henderson Airport, Las Vegas (KHND), just a short hop from the Vegas strip.  I had the recent opportunity to sit front seat with one of the country’s best Combat Flying Experiences, Sky Combat Ace.  They will be happy to pick you up and bring you back from your hotel.  On the ride over to KHND, I reached over and turned up the TOOL song playing on the radio.  We both loved the metal bands, and I had just met Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden at the NBAA Convention, so the conversation was great.  Once we arrived, I was greeted by everyone and they were more then happy to answer any of my questions, but more importantly, they took the time to learn more about me, my past experiences, and you simply felt at home with everyone there.
 
Sky Combat Ace offers many different packages, between the Extra 330, and the Waco.  The full list of experiences can be found here:  Packages.   There are 4 packages in the Extra 330 that will take you from a basic Air Show experience of Loops, Aileron Rolls, and non-stop Spins, to a longer ride that will include many of the same aerobatics thrills, this time with you controlling the stick!  The Sky Combat Experience is just the start for those seeking a Combat Thrill of Dog-Fighting in the sky. You will take the class room as the Combat Instructors will teach you the basic maneuvers you will be performing in the air.  You will be dog-fighting against friends, family, or enjoying the chance to yell "Jetser's Dead!", as you take on another Combat Flight Instructor in air-to-air combat.   If this thrill isn't enough, then take on the Adernaline Rush which will take on all the aerobatics capabilities of the aircraft and propel you into the rush of a life-time.  After the dog-fighting is over you will execute loops, rolls, cuban 8's, hammerheads, tail slides, spins, and Lomcevak (tumble)....and then it's all capped off with a low level surface attack against an SA-5 Simulated ground target!  
 
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On this adventure, most would choose the quick, sleek, highly maneuverable Extra 330.  These aircraft are nimble and offer an incredible sense of speed as you fly low.  They also offer a great full canopy view of your environment.  What every fighter pilot wants is visibility, and this aircraft offers all of that and more.  But for me, I was looking for something completely different.  I wanted to step back in time when our fighting aces had open cockpits and multiple wings.  Sky Combat Ace offered just such an opportunity to step into a Waco YMF.
 
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The Waco F-Series, best known by sporting pilots of the 1930’s to 1940’s did have some military use.  A few Waco Cabin Aircraft originally sold as civilian, were put into military service in World War II and designated the Waco C-72.  These were typically light transport aircraft.   Although many of you may recognize the Waco F-Series, you may also recognize the Waco Glider, CG-4,  used by the US Army Air Force, US Navy, Royal Air Force during the WWII Invasion of Sicily, Normandy, and Operation Market Garden.
 
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I sat down with my pilot, Whip, and we discussed a few items prior to flight.  I wasn’t in for any aerobatics, even though this aircraft is fully capable of just about anything.  There was a quick pre-fight of the aircraft and I strapped in the front seat for the ride.  I took myself back to those early years of Combat Aviation, WWI, and the dawn of Air Superiority.   I’ve been in Corporate Aviation for a long time, and have had the privilege of working and flying on just about anything out there.  However, sitting in an open cockpit bi-plane was a something that I had never done, and this ride was going to be one that took me back in time and experience the early years of Combat Aviation.
 
 
We strapped in, checked our headsets and fired up the 300Hp Jacobs R-755.  The sound of the Radial engine is unmatched in aviation, but feeling the cylinders fire was even a better experience.  We had a short taxi out to 35L and held short to warm up the engine.  Once the oil temp was up, we were cleared for departure.  Hearing the engine come up to power was great.  Although this is no modern jet fighter, and didn’t set you back in your seat when you released the brakes, it was still incredible to feel the power of the aircraft as you departed the earth’s surface. 
 
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 It was only to be a nice, slow ride out to the Hoover Dam.  Whip allowed me to take the controls, and it was then that I released that this beast was very agile, and just wanted to climb and climb.  Two wings are much better than one with regards to producing lift.  I was constantly on the stick with forward pressure, even after trimming it out quite a bit.  No electric trim here, just your basic stick and rudder piloting.  Trying to keep the aircraft level at altitude was somewhat tiring on the wrist, I can only imagine the golden days of pilots spending lengthy missions in similar aircraft and how exhausted they might feel after a few hours in the air.   A short ride later we were over the Hoover Dam doing several steep S- Turns.  I pictured myself in a Sopwith and Fokkers on an early 1900’s reconnaissance mission somewhere in Europe.  Things were much slower back then compared to the speed of aerial combat today.  After several steep turns, we pointed the nose back to base and began to head home.  You could definitely feel the aircraft react to the local thermals produced by the small mountainous areas.  The aircraft was more than capable of loops, aileron and barrel rolls,  so if your ready to for a full on combat experience, these guys can surely deliver.
 

http://youtu.be/AVyE_KSiVuM


 
We turned to final for 35R, and enjoyed smooth landing and rollout.  As we taxied back to the hangar, I couldn’t help but long for going back in time and learning more about those that defined aerial combat.  Sky Combat Ace was a great experience and I would highly recommend to anyone traveling to the Las Vegas area.  I will be returning in a couple years for my next NBAA convention out that way, and I definitely be looking them up for another ride.  It may be in the Extra 330 as we experience more modern aerial combat techniques.  Either way put these guys on your bucket list and enjoy everything they have to offer.  Please visit their website and check out the many options from scenic tours to full throttle combat experiences, you will enjoy every moment.
 
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Notes and References:
http://www.skycombatace.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WACO_Classic_Aircraft
 
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TeargasHorse    55

I have visited their business around the beginning of summer after having seen their vehicles and billboards all over town; it doesn't hurt that I'm just 10 minutes from the airport. I was impressed with the operation. Everyone was cool and showed my kids and I around the hanger and outside.

 

My birthday is coming up soon, so....

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+pcpilot    178

You lucky dog...love the video. I asked my wife for a Waco, she called me a wacko.


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