Dogfights over Suffolk

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, October 29, 2009

Everyone has seen the footage of dogfights during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Those who have wanted to experience the thrill of similar aerial combat themselves will have the chance very soon in Suffolk.

For three days in November Air Combat USA will provide the opportunity for local residents to take part – and actually take control – in air-to-air combat simulations over the Suffolk Executive Airport.

“We still have about 20 to 24 spots left over the three days,” Isaiah Nixon with Air Combat USA said. “It’s a great experience, and we are looking forward to our time in Suffolk.”

The nearly three-hour experience includes safety briefings, lessons on tactics and instructions on cockpit operations.

“We go over a few basics and safety information before heading out to the plane,” Nixon said. “Once we get to the plane, we get everyone strapped and go over the instrumental panel, talking about what buttons to push and what buttons not to push.”

Each session is open to two pilots going head-to-head for an estimated hour of flight time, which would include up to five or six dogfights.

“Only the first two dogfights are scripted, so that each pilot can get the feel of what it feels like to be the bogey and be on the attack,” Nixon said. “After that, it is completely up to you. You could end up winning them all, losing them all or splitting.”

Nixon that said during the flights the participants are at the controls, with the pilots coaching them through the dogfight.

“We also give each of the participants a video of their dogfights that we go over after the flight,” Nixon said. “We have four cameras going at all times. It is a good keepsake of the experience.”

Each of the pilots has extensive military backgrounds with hundreds of flight hours.

As for limitations to those who can participate, Nixon said those over 6-foot-7-inches would be “uncomfortable” and they do have a weight restriction of 250 pounds.

Nixon said there were no other limitations. “We really don’t have any other restrictions,” he said. “We’ve flown all kinds.”

Air Combat USA will be at the Suffolk Executive Airport from Nov. 20-22 with openings beginning as early as 7 a.m.

The registration fee is $1,395 and includes all training, flight time and video. To register, call 1-800-522-7590. Log on to www.aircombat.com for more information on Air Combat USA and sample videos.

The company has also scheduled return trips to Suffolk next year in April and November.