Fighter Pilot for a Day – Top Gun in Scottsdale”

Extra 300L aircraft D-EXFF 2009 03
Upside down is fun – but not really easy on the belly.
[Sept. 15 Update: An alert Twitter user (Yes, I still refuse to say “Tweep”) pointed out an article on claiming that Top Gun Fighter Combat Adventures is a scam. In short, it sells Groupon offers, but doesn’t have a plane or facility to its name. I will follow up with more info as I dig it up. But since the rest of this post is about the coolness of air-combat maneuvers, I’ll leave it up.]

Groupon often lets me down. I don’t want weekly colon hydrotherapy or enough body waxing offers to be completely hairless for the rest of my life.

But sometimes, Groupon tips me off to something interesting. The latest example: Air combat at Top Gun Fighter Combat Adventures. The chance to be a fighter pilot for a day.

Top Gun at Scottsdale Municipal Airpark gives anyone – even those without previous flying experience – the chance to experience air combat in a real airplane. This isn’t the only place in Arizona where you can do this. I wrote about Fighter Combat International last year on Yahoo! Voices. I think Top Gun’s location is better - on the cusp of north Scottsdale and its wealthy residents. It’s also closer to the upscale resorts and golf courses – vacation is a great time to play fighter pilot.

And a Groupon deal starting at $399 (for 40 minutes of flight time) opens the proverbial canopy to more people.

I’ve never gotten to dogfight. But I’ve flown in the back seat of a World War II-era fighter-trainer and learned first-hand what air combat maneuvering feels like for a fighter pilot. (Be sure to read the link – the story has a twist.)

Even 30 minutes – so short a time on the ground! – will seem like an eternity. If you think a regional jet is small … even if you’ve flown in a Cessna 172 … nothing is like watching the horizon spin. And keep in mind – you’ll be in a propeller-driven airplane flying just a few hundred miles per hour. Imagine being a fighter pilot in the cockpit of a jet that can fly twice the speed of sound. After just a half-hour of rolls, loops and high-g turns, you will emerge from the cockpit sweaty, wrung out and unsteady. You won’t be able to think about eating. I promise, though, that you’ll look back on it as one of the most sensational half-hour slices of your life.

This post just might contain affiliate links. Fear not, they’re non-spammy and benign. Hey, I have to keep this thing running somehow!

By Wandering Justin

Writer. Traveler. Gastronomic daredevil. Fitness fan. Homebrewer. Metal dude \m/. Cat and dog lover.


  1. Top Gun Fighter Combat is a scam. I became aware of the scam when some of my customers at Air Combat USA called thinking I was offering flights in my Marchetti SF260 fighter trainers. When I looked into the offer on groupon I discovered the scammer had lifted paragraphs of our copyrighted material off our website, took pictures of Fighter Combat International Aircraft, etc! They are offering flights in many locations. When you check the addresses listed, you find they are not real or are across the street from real businesses! I had a woman call me yesterday trying to find where to find Top Gun Fighter Combat as she had paid for the flight. I have notified Groupon of the scam but would do nothing! By the way, air combat flight for hire must be flown with companies that have a WAIVER from the FAA for that activity. This is because it takes a special type of training. I know because my company, Air Combat USA, founded the industry.

  2. Thanks for weighing in, Michael. I really do hope Groupon starts doing more due diligence with its offers. I’m really curious about the site’s liability.

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