Piloting a fighter jet can now be scratched off your bucket list thanks to a Swiss company.
If you’re into high-speed adventure like Tom Cruise’s “Maverick” in Top Gun, a Swiss company is giving older Americans a chance to add it to their bucket lists and fly in a real fighter jet.
$2,400 for 30 minutes and $3,500 for an hour, you, too, get the opportunity to ride in a L-39 Albatross two-seat fighter jet in which you not only get to be a passenger, but spend time piloting it as well and reach speeds in excess of 550 mph.
Some 40 percent of the company’s customers are 50 and older and there have even been passengers who exceed 80, says Philipp Schaer, the company’s founder and co-president. Some are pilots but have never flown in a jet or people who aren’t pilots but wanted the thrill as well says Schaer who didn’t have good enough vision to be a military pilot.
“It’s all about people wanting the experience of what it feels like to fly in a fighter jet,” Schaer says. “It’s very impressive to fly such powerful machines and experience the G-force and acrobatics.”
The company offers flights throughout the world, including Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. There are three locations in the US in Tampa, Houston and Los Angeles.
Bruce Clow, 71, says the flight is one he’ll never forget. The former president and chief executive officer of the Bank of New Hampshire, says he’s always wondered what it would feel like to be in a fighter jet. He once took an acrobatic flight on a bi-plane over the Florida Keys, but the experience on the fighter jet was something else.
“When you’re in the bubble, your head is above the plane,” Clow says. “It’s just a beautiful, peaceful feeling. You don’t even know you’re in a plane and it’s like you’re flying by yourself. When you take control and start doing rolls, it’s exhilarating.”
Clow, a former Marine, says he’s always admired pilots and how they land on aircraft carriers, and always wanted to try it. During the flight, Clow says the pilot allowed him to take control and push the throttle forward when they took off. He even flew the jet during rolls and spins.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Clow says. “I went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef and jumped off Aspen Mountain in a parachute. I just like doing things like that. I have sense of adventure.” Schaer says the pilots are former military and experienced. The jets are equipped with ejector seats. The only requirement to take the flights is to be in good health. The company sends customers to a doctor who must sign off on them before they can fly. The doctors check for heart conditions, blood pressure and back ailments.
“You don’t have to be a superhero to fly with us, but you must be in good health,” Schaer says.
For more information on the flights, go to www.migflug.com.