In the late 1980's, founder Craig Saunders' passion for Military Aviation saw him join the New Zealand Air Force as an Avionics Technician working on Aermacchi Jets and Andovers. 

While New Zealand jets weren't involved in any active combat, sitting in the jump seat for a joy ride and experiencing the thrill of their speed and power was total exhilaration.  Even flying his own aerobatic warbird aircraft didn't produce quite the rush of those jet flights.

After leaving the Air Force, Flight Simulators were the only option for flying in a jet again. There was nothing available that replicated the exhilarating experience closely enough though.  After years of development in his home workshop and with advances in technology, Craig created a flight simulator that finally ticked all the boxes and The Aviator Experience was born.

Situated in a hangar at the Tauranga Airport, The Aviator Experience isn't just about the Flight Simulators. Craig's attention to detail and obsession with Military Aviation has resulted in a unique environment that enhances the whole Aviator Experience for everyone to enjoy.


The introduction of Virtual Reality added a whole new dimension to flight simulation. The 3D effect allowed for incredible depth perception and a real sense of height and speed​. 

Although this new tech made the flight simulation experience incredibly realistic visually, it still didn't satisfy Craig's desire to produce an experience close to the exhilaration of flying in a real military jet.

After much research to ensure the perfect machine, a full 'Six Degrees of Axis' motion platform was fitted with a replica F-18 Hornet cockpit. Combined with VR technology and some very clever software magic, this Full Motion Flight Simulator is as good as it gets.

With the Six Axis of Motion you’ll feel the acceleration as you take off, every vibration as your aircraft begins to stall, and the roll as you bank to avoid an enemy aircraft.  Pitch, roll, yaw, heave, sway and acceleration; this simulator does it all.


Strap in and hold on.


Well it's not Avgas.

We choose to use the best Flight Simulation software on the planet - DCS World.

Everything about this software is amazing. The attention to detail in the images, the sound, and the performance of the aircraft are all outstanding.  The adjacent screen shot of the DCS Sabre proves just how good the image detail is. 

Combined with our Flight Simulator cockpits and VR, the total experience is simply mind blowing.

Until you've experienced it, you really can't imagine it.


142 Aerodrome Rd,

Air Side Hangar 7,

Tauranga Airport,

Mount Maunganui

Phone: 0800 0AV8OR


Email:  bookings@theaviator.co.nz


Wed - Fri: 10am - 5pm
​​Saturday: 10am - 4pm
​Sunday: 10am - 4pm

Bookings outside these

times by arrangement.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram