The 10 Best Military Experiences in America
Nowhere Else: The Best Places To Fly a Phantom, Drive A Sherman, or Race a PT Boat
They say to truly understand someone you need to walk a mile in their shoes. What was it like to be a young Lt. John F. Kennedy in command of a PT boat in the Pacific? Could you handle the claustrophobic feeling inside a Sherman tank? How about jinking in an F-4 Phantom fighter jet in the skies over Vietnam? ? Here are those undiscovered destinations that let you experience a Sherman tank, fly in a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter, take to the skies in a F-4 Phantom – and roar across a lake in a restored PT boat just like the one Jack had in the Pacific.
- (Tie) Ox Hunting Ranch/Drivetanks.com, Uvalde, TX
Nowhere Else: Drive one of several tanks. Fire the main gun. . Spend the night in recreated WWII barracks, or fly home in your own jet leaving from their private runway.
- (Tie) Wings of Freedom/Collings Foundation, Stowe, MA/Houston, TX
Nowhere Else: Fly in a real F-4 Phantom fighter jet or an TA-4 Skyhawk jet. Highly trained professionals let you experience flight unlike anywhere else in the nation.
- PT-305, Lake Pontchartrain, LA
Nowhere else: This is the only operating PT boat in the world. With the roar of three 1200-hp engines you’ll go out on Lake Pontchartrain and zip through the waves. Coordinated through the National Museum of World War II in New Orleans.
- Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, Hampton, GA. (South Atlanta Regional Airport)
Nowhere else: Fly in a Vietnam-era Huey or a Cobra helicopter – or both –from the same air base. The sheer physicality of a Huey in flight will leave you breathless.
- American Airpower Museum, Farmingdale, NY
Nowhere else: Fly in a WWII- era C-47 with WWII paratrooper. You’ll start in a briefing room then fly with reenactors dressed in real WWII uniforms, ready to jump as you fly through the sky.
- California Overland Desert Excursions, Borrego Springs, CA.
Nowhere else: Take an Army deuce-and-a-half out to the old training grounds for the invasion of North Africa. The sand in your teeth is half the fun.
- National Liberty Ship Memorial, Pier 45, San Francisco, CA
USS Pampanito, Pier 45, San Francisco, CA
Nowhere else: Feel the engines come to life as you sail on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a true WWII Liberty Ship. Or walk down a few yards and squeeze through the 27-foot wide hull of the USS Pampanito — a WWII electric-diesel submarine.
- USS Kidd Veterans Museum, Baton Rouge, LA
Nowhere else: Visit a U.S. Navy destroyer that displays true, WWII Navy colors. Walk her decks. Examine the guns. Go back in time.
- Stallion 51, Kissimmee, FL
Nowhere else: The only full-cockpit, dual seat Mustangs with a certified CFI as your pilot thus allowing you to take the controls and fly a P-51. That’s right – this isn’t a cramped, jury-rigged second seat and your highly experienced pilot is also a licensed flight instructor so you get to yank and bank the plane yourself.
- Drive A Tank, Kasota, MN
Nowhere Else: Drive a tank. Crush a car. Plow through a house. Use an M4 Sherman tank plus other armored vehicle.
- Commemorative Air Force, Dallas, TX
This Texas-based organization has chapters across the United States offering flight experiences in more than a dozen different types of warbirds based at airports in a dozen different states.