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Educating professional aviators: Laughlin flight simulators help pilots soar

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Phaff
  • 47th Flying Training Wing public affairs

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- Training technology and tools used to create Air Force pilots is ever-changing to meet the needs of the Nation and have the best, most lethal pilots in the world.

Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) uses innovative technology like advanced flight simulators to ensure the most realistic training opportunities for pilots. The instructors who teach with these tools are aviators themselves, who dedicate themselves to training future pilots.

“We are educating professional aviators and part of that process involves helping them learn to think and behave like a pilot,” said Tom Kline, 47th Operations Group T-38 lead instructor. “By exposing them to a dynamic yet controlled environment with aircraft malfunctions and changing weather, we are building their confidence and competence as leaders in their current and future assignments.”

These simulators help prepare student pilots for their future careers and support them during their training to improve their skills in the sky.

“The simulators help a lot with the fact that you can get a feel for where all the switches are and how everything is situated,” said 2nd Lt. Ben Steverding, 47th Flying Training Wing student pilot. “You can’t prepare for everything, obviously, but it's a good warm-up before you get behind the stick.”

This training tool allows the students to get extra flight training between sorties to help sharpen skills and hone techniques. Even when they aren't scheduled to fly, students can take advantage of the simulators at any phase of training. They are also utilized by the instructor pilots as a way to maximize knowledge to pass on to students.

“It is common for instructors to go to the simulator with another instructor and accomplish emergency procedures and crew resource management simulator event,” said Capt. Dylan Rabbit, 47th Flying Training Wing executive officer. “This keeps the instructor pilots fresh and proficient on handling or executing emergency procedures in the event they were to occur in the real aircraft.”

With this rapidly changing technology, the simulators become very close to mimicking the experiences of flying an aircraft. They also allow students to practice scenarios they may not be able to experience during training.

“I’ve been a civilian simulator instructor for 16 years and I'm still amazed at the visual and tactile realism, even at the instructor console,” said David Loftus, 47th Operations Group director of academics & simulator training. “To be honest, the SIM can be more difficult than the aircraft at times, so mastery of the simulator leads to real benefits in the aircraft.”

Air Force pilots need frequent, high-quality training to maximize their effectiveness. Even when they can’t use an actual aircraft, these simulators can accomplish the task and ensure Laughlin’s graduating pilots are the best and most prepared pilots in the world.