Do you fantasize about being John Rambo or James Bond?
Have you always wondered what it would be like to drive a tank or sneak into enemy territory with the Special Forces? These five intense experiences will let you indulge these fantasies while keeping you safely right here in reality.
1. Drive a Tank
Get behind the wheel of some of America’s most fortified armored vehicles at Drive a Tank in Kasota, Minn. The facility has eight tanks and several military vehicles that have been used in actual combat. You can drive them in a combat scenario and run over just about anything that gets in your way. You’ll receive a full safety briefing and driving tips before hopping aboard, and you’ll learn about the vehicles and how they are used.
Drive a tank through a wooded course with an instructor sitting “shotgun,” then get behind the wheel of a second tank that you’ll drive through a challenge course with just small vision periscopes to guide you. The best part is when you get to crush cars just like in a Monster Truck Jam. As a bonus, you can shoot historic military firearms, using up to 30 rounds, at the Drive a Tank indoor shooting range.
2. Fly like Maverick and Goose
Who among us hasn’t dreamed of piloting a plane “Top Gun”-style, Tom Cruise Ray-Bans and all? Get your fighter pilot fix at Air Combat USA, operating in 26 cities across the U.S. No experience or license is needed for your chance to spot a bogey at 3 o’clock and fire away in what they call the “ultimate laser tag.”
In this real-life experience (not a simulator), you’re seated next to an instructor pilot in an SIAI Marchetti SF260, an aerobatics and military training plane that handles like an aerial version of the Ferrari, according to Air Combat USA. Take your turn outsmarting, outmaneuvering and outgunning the enemy with an air-to-air “kill” simulator. When you make contact (no actual guns are fired), smoke pours out of the other plane. Of course, your flight is captured on camera, so you can share your inner fighter pilot with the whole world.
3. Go Undercover
How do elite antiterrorism units take down the enemy? You can learn firsthand on an intense two- or four-day mission with Covert Ops Miami as a member of an Israeli counterterrorism unit. Accompanied by Garret Machine, a native Floridian and former member of the Israeli Defense Force with a master’s degree in homeland security and counterterror warfare, get ready to take down some wanted militants.
While undercover, you’ll learn the Israeli martial arts technique of Krav Maga, go through military gas training, experience proven techniques for kidnapping militants, learn to shoot from a moving vehicle, practice counterterrorism warfare with an assault rifle, try handcuffing techniques and more.
4. Extreme Skydiving
If you’ve been there, done that when it comes to skydiving, here’s a way to take it up a notch. Learn the skill of High Altitude, Low Open (HALO) parachute jumping, a technique that involves jumping from high altitudes and waiting until the last second to pull the ripcord. Our Special Forces use the technique to avoid detection. Their motto: “Jump out of a perfectly good airplane at 30,000 feet because you can!”
In Somerville, Tenn., undergo training with an expert HALO jump team as part of the Tandem HALO Jumping experience. Head up to 30,000 feet, where you’ll have to breathe oxygen just to keep your wits about you, and then make the leap strapped to an expert jumper. The team says it can be all said and done within just a few hours, and it recommends May through November as the best months to go.
5. Score Survival Skills
How would you fare on the popular TV show “Naked and Afraid”? Find out with TV personality Mykel Hawke, a veteran Green Beret and star of the Discovery Channel Show “Man, Woman, Wild,” with a weekend in the wilderness on Specops: Basic Survival Training. After some classroom instruction on skills like building a fire and constructing a shelter, be ready to get dirty and hungry. You’ll be given only a few select items like a canteen, compass, poncho, whistle and flashlight, and then you’ll be sent out into the wild to locate food and water and spend the night alone. And don’t try to sneak in your cellphone; they’ll take it from you when training begins.
Lyn Mettler is an Indianapolis, Ind.-based travel writer. You can find her at www.GotoTravelGal.com or on Twitter at @GotoTravelGal.