Airmen gauge fear of heights in virtual simulation Published Jan. 29, 2018 By Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – “Back to the Future II” is just one of many movies or other media that attempted to predict future technology such as real hover boards, self-lacing shoes, flying cars and retractable coat sleeves. 366th TRS Airmen VR simulation A 366th Training Squadron electrical systems apprentice course student at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, experiences a virtual reality simulation program called “The Plank” Jan. 26, 2018, while onlookers watch and supervise. Trainees, the first to try the new technology in that setting, were chosen to take part in a virtual reality demonstration and provide feedback, which will be helpful to see what the next step would be with VR in the technical training environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res On Jan. 26, 366th Training Squadron electrical systems apprentice trainees were offered, while some were chosen, to take part in a little demonstration to help find out if virtual reality is the future of training here on Sheppard Air Force Base and maybe the whole Air Force. The demonstration was held in the 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs Digital Design Lab and featured what some would say is an unusual and innovative take on training. Students were brought one by one into the lab, where they donned a VR headset and stepped into a simulation – a nightmare for people scared of heights. The results were conclusive, though, on both sides. Instructor and trainee. “It was interesting to see how this plays out,” said Tech. Sgt. David Harris, an electrical systems instructor at the demo. He said instructors came to compare it to how the students would normally react when actually getting them up there on the poles. It’s pretty close. Master Sgt. Matthew Wells, 364th Training Squadron Telecommunications flight chief, said most electrical systems apprentice students go about three weeks or 30 days without getting the mental check of being up so high, which is an important aspect of their high-wire jobs. With this system, instructors actually got an initial assessment to see which trainees would handle the training easier while noting the ones that could have issues later on. While the instructors came to the conclusion that they could see virtual reality training implemented in the future, the trainees came up with their own results, which were similar to their instructors. 366th TRS Airmen VR simulation A 366th Training Squadron electrical systems apprentice course student at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, puts on a virtual reality headset Jan. 26, 2018. The digital design team at Sheppard hosted their first technology demonstration for students to give the Airmen the opportunity to experience and see what could be a future training tool, and for the digital design team to make adjustments to better help the Airmen in training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Most of the trainees were also part of a class who was graduating soon, and they said this could be helpful for any blocks of training. Overall, everyone involved seemed to enjoy the experience, be it the trainees with sweaty palms or the instructors filming the events for “training purposes.” The VR capabilities are not at their full potential yet, but the possibilities are endless. “All you need is a desk and a chair,” said James Rumfelt, a member of the DDL. “You can put a combat medic with a CPR dummy in front of him then have bullets flying past. You can be dropping mortars. You can go insane with all of these.” With this first demo appearing to be a success, the possibilities are endless with the right amount of funding and backing. Rumfelt said this could revolutionize training in general and not just here on Sheppard.