BY TED LUEBBERS
Recently, 15 members of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 based at Leesburg International Airport (KLEE) in Leesburg, Florida, experienced the sensations of virtual flight through the use of aircraft simulators at the SIMCOM Aviation Training Center in Orlando, Florida.
The chapter’s program director, Paul Adrien, arranged the Jan. 27, 2018, visit to SIMCOM so members could test their skills on two advanced simulators.
SIMCOM Aviation Training teaches business and general aviation pilots the techniques of safely flying many different types of corporate jets, turbine and piston engine aircraft. The cockpits of these simulators are constructed just like the real aircraft and contain the instruments one would expect to find.
The motion sensitive, wide screen visual technology creates the illusion of actually being able to fly from any airport in the world, at any altitude, to any other airport. Manipulation of the simulator controls creates what a pilot would normally view through the windscreen of a real plane in flight.
SIMCOM provided two instructors, Rock Rockcastle and Diane Fisher, both certified flight instructors with thousands of hours of flight time. Both of them were very patient with the chapter members as they tried to become quickly familiar with an aircraft they had never seen before.
In a real teaching situation, the simulator students would have completed several hours of class room time, as well as studying the particulars of the aircraft they would be flying.
The airplanes the EAA chapter members virtually flew on this day were the Piper Mirage PA 46-350 and a Beechcraft Baron T 42. The Mirage is a single engine plane and the Baron is a twin engine airplane.
With the prompting of the instructors, the chapter members did reasonably well with their virtual flights. There were some virtual crashes, which taught some degree of humility, but if one is going to crash what better place to do it?
“This was a great learning experience for the chapter members and many thanks to SIMCOM Aviation Training and their instructors for this wonderful opportunity,” Adrien noted.