Pilot for a day: where to experience the jet fighter simulator in our area

Mobile F-16 aircraft gives 180-degree immersion

A simulator in our area is giving people the chance to experience flying a jet fighter aircraft.

The Civil Air Patrol facility in La Crosse is partnering with Colgan Air Services to provide a unique F-16 simulator project. Mounted in a mobile trailer, the simulator gives people of any age a 180-degree immersive experience.

The trailer can be taken to events, schools, and community groups. The goal is to educate and introduce kids about flying.

Major Todd Mandel, Commander for the La Crosse Composite Squadron says the main purpose is “to get the public, particularly youth, excited about aviation, and being a pilot and getting into the aerospace world.”

Mandel says, “We have a pilot shortage in this country, we have a shortage of maintainers, a shortage of mechanics… where else are you going to get a chance to experience what it’s — somewhat like — to be a fighter pilot.”

Individuals can experience the simulator on Thursday, August 22, at the Boys and Girls Club School Kick-Off Event at the Mathy Center, or on Saturday, August 24, at the Airport Runway 5K and open house at the La Crosse Regional Airport.

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