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Fly a Fighter Plane

Recreation Hurts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7 million Americans annually seek medical attention for injuries sustained during sports and recreation [source: CDC].

If military-inspired vacations interest you, then you'll be excited to hear there's a company that will let you fly a real fighter aircraft. It's called Air Combat USA, a civilian dogfighting school headquartered in Fullerton, Calif. This outfit puts young and old thrill-seekers behind the controls of an Italian-made Marchetti SF260 fighter plane with no experience required. Then, with the help of an instructor, participants will engage in a dogfight, firing simulated bullets that send a trail of smoke streaming from other aircraft when "hit." And the best part? Three digital cameras are mounted on your plane to capture every bank, dive and roll.

Founded in 1988, Air Combat USA tours across the United States offering training sessions at more than two-dozen cities. A basic program lasts two-and-a-half to three hours and includes five to six dogfights at a cost of about $1,400. And while putting a bunch of inexperienced pilots at the yoke of a high-performance aircraft doesn't sound like a good idea, it's actually pretty safe. All aircraft are maintained to strict Federal Aviation Regulations, and participants are required to observe safe minimum altitudes and distances between planes at all times.

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