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Flight Simulators At M.O.A.: A New Way To See MN

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s a whole new way to see Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes from above, and even swoop over your own neighborhood.

Flight simulators at A.C.E.S. at Mall of America can now show more detail than ever.

The company’s new program, “A.C.E.S. over Minnesota” gives a surround view of neighborhoods, streets, and individual homes.

It’s the latest advancement in technology that used to be reserved for military personnel.

Company owner Mike Pohl developed a way to bring this view to ordinary citizens.

“You should be able to see your streets,” Pohl said, “depending on how many trees are around your house, the roof of your house, the school you went to, the pond you skated on.”

A.C.E.S. built this latest program with images taken by aircraft for the U.S. Geological Survey.

“It’s not Google Earth,” Pohl said, “but the concept is the same where there’s photos of terrain that are then mapped onto a simulator database.”

You have your choice of aircraft. We tried both a helicopter and an F-18.

“You’re the pilot,” Pohl said. “You’re flying it so you’re in complete control of where you go, how high you’re at, how fast you’re going.”

For now, they have Minnesota and Iowa available in the finer detail. By the end of the summer, they plan to also have Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

“The first place most people want to go is to their home,” Pohl said. “They want to look at their hometown. It’s almost like a magic carpet ride. You get a feeling of flight when you’re in this thing. You feel like you’re flying a real airplane.”

A.C.E.S. also has World War 2 combat simulators and others that let you land at 24,000 different airports around the world.

Cost is $39.95 for a 30-minute session plus a 10-minute lesson.

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