Flying high at Mall of America

By Spenser Bickett – SUN NEWSPAPERS intern

flying high
Owner Michael Pohl sits inside a new flight simulator at A.C.E.S. Flight Simulator at Mall of America. The new spherical simulator is aimed at offering a more realistic experience. (Submitted photo)


With the holiday season comes holiday travel. Many people fly across the country to visit relatives.

This holiday season Bloomington residents can fly over the island of Kauai without leaving Mall of America.

A.C.E.S. Flight Simulator at Mall of America has added two new, advanced flight simulators, with two more to come.

These new surround view simulators are much larger than the older simulators, owner Michael Pohl explained.

“The new screen is seven times bigger,” Pohl said. “The old simulator is 28 square feet, the new one is almost 190 square feet of surface area that you’re looking at.”

As well as being larger, the new screens are also spherical, which offers a more realistic experience, Pohl explained.

“It’s like a giant basketball, and you’re sitting in the center of the basketball,” Pohl explained. “It covers beyond all of your peripheral vision.”

A.C.E.S. brings something unique to the experience of going to the mall, according to Dan Jasper, vice president of public relations for the mall.

“That’s something that A.C.E.S. really brings to Mall of America, it really does drive customers from around the country,” Jasper said.

Pohl also believes being in the Mall of America has been a huge benefit to A.C.E.S.

“Tourists love to do things that they can’t do at home when they’re traveling,” Pohl explained. “So this is something that fits that to a T.”

Jasper said he has used the older simulators before, but hasn’t tried the new one yet. He noted that his flight skills were not exemplary.

“I’m not a good flier. I was told that by the person in the control room, and I actually crashed, but it was fun nonetheless,” Jasper said.

In addition to being one of a kind, the simulators are locally made. The new simulators, as well as all the old ones, are built by Pohl. The surround view simulators were constructed in St. Paul and then transported to A.C.E.S.

Pohl said his most memorable experience with A.C.E.S. is about a former employee. The employee didn’t have any interest in aviation, but his time at A.C.E.S. sparked an interest and he went on to become a flight instructor for the Air Force, as well as a fighter jet pilot, Pohl explained.

The simulators at A.C.E.S. are unlike anything else in Minnesota, or the Midwest. “There’s a similar business in California, but their simulators use old display technology,” Pohl explained. “They use flat screens in front of them. They’re nothing like this.”