Las Vegas is all about having fun. And what better way to have fun than to fly stunt plane; doing crazy aerial acrobatics or even some aerial combat (often called dogfighting) — and experience some massive g-forces!?
Sky Combat Ace (SCA) is one of the world’s most extreme aviation attractions where you can fly the plane under the supervision of one of their fighter pilots. What’s ridiculously awesome is that absolutely no flight experience is necessary.
I’ve had my fair share of fun in the air before, ranging from skydiving, private aeroplane trip above Grand Canyon, world’s highest bungee jump, flying business and first class — but never have I experienced anything like this. It is simply something completely out of this world.
Introducing the Sky Combat Ace Experience
So, let me start. We got picked up at 8 am from Bally’s at The Strip in the middle of Las Vegas in a badass red Hummer H2. Now, that’s a cool start and an adventure in itself!
For the 20-minute drive we had a great guide who entertained us, as well as TV screens showing us a visit from the TV Show “Mythbusters” who were testing the g-forces. I recall laughing a lot when Grant Imahara fainted as they performed one of the loops. Little did I know that I would share that destiny as well…
Overall, what I found particularly cool when researching this activity was their great alternatives. They offer in fact so many varied activities that there is bound to be an alternative that’s the perfect one for you. There are 2 main categories: Aerobatics, where you basically star in your own airshow, and Air Combat, where you learn the art of aerial dogfighting. There are also various combo packages and activities for certified pilots who want to have some fun as well (more about the various offers at the end of this article).
Everything begins with a safety briefing that covers all the scenarios that could occur (those type of scenarios you kind of don’t want to think too much about). Don’t worry though, Sky Combat Ace has a 100% safety record!
I was very lucky because when it was my turn, they simultaneously had a practice session with another pilot. That way my flight experience got extended and included several other tricks that I hadn’t paid for.
Once we got up in the air it all felt a bit shaky and unsafe. At first, even slight turbulence freaked me out. So when we started doing the first warm-up tricks I was so scared, but simultaneously laughing and enjoying it. It was certainly surreal. Words hardly does it justice — at least with my somewhat limited vocabulary. Moreover, I’m not too familiar with the aerial jargon and tricks (T-barrel, loop, rolls etc.) so therefore I’ll let the videos speak for themselves:
I could probably cherry pick tonnes of things about this thrilling experience, but I’ll spare you that — although three scenarios deserve further mentioning:
First of all, it was definitely a crazy moment when we flew straight up in the air and then the pilot suddenly killed the engine. Boy, that was scary! Could you imagine doing something like that?! And then you’re basically free falling towards the ground (before the pilot eventually, and somewhat teasingly, decides to turn on the engine again).
The second astonishing incident was when we flew the stunt plane just a few metres above ground through a curvy “mini-valley”. I have seriously never been so afraid in my life. If you’ve seen the pod race featured in Stars Wars: Episode I; well, that’s how it all felt! At times I couldn’t even see where we were heading, that we were destined to crash into the next rock wall after the other before turning away at the very last moment.
The third part was simply the moment where I blacked out (fainted) for a sec. As we were experiencing more than 8 G-forces I simply couldn’t withstand it anymore and the body “shut down”, hehe. You’ll notice it on the video at the time we were spinning horizontally upside down.
Should you want to watch the full video provided by Sky Combat Ace, then here it is:
- Find discounts. A quite expensive experience but you can find cheap offers through Groupon like I did. The price was almost down to around 50%.
- Camera. Do remember that camera packages cost extra — and they are usually quite expensive. But I would say they’re totally worth it. You could opt for the “selfie”-camera I had, go-pro camera on the wing and other combinations.
- Weather. You would want to do this on a day with decent weather. Be sure to check the forecast.
- As mentioned there are various aerobatics packages and various air combat activities
- Operation Recon: For those that just want a taste of what the Extra 330 can do ($349).
- Afterburner: Like a roller coaster without the rails, full of non-stop spins, rolls, loops, tumbles and heart-thumping action ($499).
- Top Gun: Designed for those who want to get serious about their aerobatic thrills. YOU fly the stunt plane ($699).
- Air Show:
- Combat Wingman: get a first-hand look as a SCA fighter pilot demonstrates their aerial dogfighting skills ($899).
- Sky Combat: Air-to-air combat where you fly the stunt plane with a trained SCA fighter pilot ($999)
- Adrenaline Rush: includes aerobatics, air-to-air combat and a dynamic low-level bombing run ($1299).
- Last but not least, there’s also an extreme package called Operation Red Flag (priced at $1,999 per customer) for those that seek the absolute ultimate fighter pilot experience. More about that one here.
- Spectator: There’s also a spectator package if you would just like to fly a non-aerobatic aircraft to cheer on your friends ($249).
- FAQ. Should you have more questions, then perhaps their FAQ can be helpful.
Also be sure to check out their introduction video: