FrontRunners: Domesticated Dogfighter

Sit down in the new F-18E Super Hornet Micro Simulator from Clark’s Precision Machine and Tool (817.444.2533, www.clarksmachine.com), shove the throttle forward, and pull back on the control stick, and suddenly you are hurtling through the sky in a fighter jet at 500 mph. At least you appear to be, thanks to the realistic images on the flight simulator’s video projector and the authentic sound effects emanating from its built-in speakers. The unit’s cockpit, which includes practically every switch and display found in that of an F-18, furthers the illusion, although only 60 of the controls actually function in Clark’s standard Super Hornet. The company can enable each of the simulator’s 300-plus switches and controls, but the pilot then would have to perform a full prep procedure before every simulated takeoff.

Utilized for professional flight training, the Micro Simulator can be set up for home or business use in just 15 minutes. Prices for the machine begin at $68,700, but a Super Hornet outfitted with all of the available upgrades, including military-spec avionics, may cost as much as $4.5 million.

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