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Last week spent some time doing some R&R. One opportunity I took advantage of was to do a 30 minute flight at the A.C.E.S flight simulator.

While not a full motion flight simulator, nor does it have a fully simulated instrumented cockpit, the A.C.E.S. simulator provides you a nearly 360 degree visual flight experience with a very realistic flight model.

You are seated in a ejection seat (minus the ability to actually eject yourself from the simulator) with a bubble around you. On the bubble is projected a the visual model for the flight simulator with your HUD (head up display) and scenery. To the left you have a throttle with varies controls ranging from flares to flaps. To the right, you have a flight stick with wheel breaks, weapons selector, target selector, and trigger. In front of you is a computer screen that provides you with a information on your weapons, nearest airports, and flight path. (I should note this is the layout for the surround view simulator which simulates an F-18. The WWII plane setup is slightly different.)

After a short video explaining the basics of the simulator, you walked to the simulator and you begin your flight.  Having experienced several flight simulators, I was allowed a fair amount of freedom with flying the plane. However, for those new to flight simulators, you are coached by a member of the staff via radio on how to fly the plane. This includes takeoff, landing, and air to air refueling.

After a few minutes of flying around, I was treated to what I guess is not a usual experience at the simulator. I was allowed to fly against the programmer of the simulator in a dogfight. While initially it was my entire arsenal against his guns, it became a guns versus guns battle.

I won’t go into a long blow by blow description of the multiple dogfights that ensued. I scored a kill, and Gunslinger scored the rest. He stalled out once and crashed, I stalled out and crashed. We passed each other at times so close we both agreed our wings created sparks as they rubbed each other.

At the end of the 30 minutes Gunslinger unstrapped my at we shook hands. The experience I walked away from was one I will remember for quit awhile. To find out more about the A.C.E.S flight simulator visit .