Oshkosh, WI. Thursday, July 26
So far Oshkosh has been nothing but extraordinary for AFSBI. Not only for a simulator presence much larger than we expected, but also because of all the ideas, people, and innovation that really make this a memorable experience. Oshkosh is, of course, about aviation. Airventure, as the show is officially called, is managed by the EAA which has been running it here for almost half a century, every year since 1970. Based at KOSH, this is the ‘burning man’ of aviation. The figures are impressive: over 300,000 visitors from 61 countries, 4,000 volunteers, 10,000 aircraft and hundreds of ‘show’ quality airplanes flying in, making Oshkosh Tower the busiest in the world on those days. Homebuilts, military, general aviation, helis, airline transport, vintage, gliders, gyros, seaplanes, every category of flying machine seems to be here in numbers. Around 1,000 forums and workshops are held at Airventure, from bas ic aircraft construction to sophisticated avionics management. There is truly something for everybody. We were looking for simulation activity and we surely found it.
We opened our first day with a seminar by Scott Manley, a glider/airplane instructor who has devised a method, very applicable to CFIs with good sim experience, in which he teaches remotely via Skype. His concept is based on the repetition of very specific segments of flying (take-offs, landings, and unusual attitudes such as stalls), to the point of inducing students to learn proper technique by taking in their correct visual perspective and correcting wrong perceptions. He discussed and demonstrated how a student learned how to land an airplane, where to flare, how to manage power, etc. In his instructing activity, he rarely meets the students, he does it all online, sharing screens. For glider instructions he uses a sim called Condor. We will look more into it soon.
Next we were treated to announcements by Redbird simulators, which is present on a grand scale here, running many of the pilot proficiency workshops. They announced a float plane sim which replicates the cockpit of a Cessna Grand Caravan on floats. The unit displayed was commissioned by Tropic Ocean Airways in cooperation with Wipaire, a float manufacturer. We did not fly it but we look forward to doing that.
We then had an interesting conversation with Robert V. Meder, the Chairman of NAFI, the National Association of Flight Instructors. This interview will fill its own post space soon. We discussed the role of flight instructors and simulation following the recent FAA rule change and what it means for the industry.
A most interesting presentation by NATCA, the US Association which manages air traffic control, offered an insight of how controllers think and how to talk to them. ‘Talk to us’ was the most important point, meaning: “Try not to go through our airspace without communicating, even if it is legal to do so, such as when flying above our ceiling altitude.” And: ‘Know what to expect’ a simple suggestion that is key to the sequence in any ATC communication: Who you are calling, who and where you are, and what your request is. We heard from a tower and an approach controller that many pilots are intimidated by ATC and end up not using the wide range of services available to them. In the US, ATC is a free service so there is no reason not to leverage their system and adding an additional layer of safety even when flying VFR. Simulator users have now several options to simulate ATC with real controllers and we think it is a must add-on for that all-immersive experience.
As a sequitur, we attended a passionate presentation by Keith Smith from PilotEdge titled: “Tips, Secrets and Lessons Learned.” Keith is a big proponent of flight simulation for aviation training and his PilotEdge efforts have made a huge difference for a number of GA sim pilots who now use it. Keith suggested using good interface equipment, follow standard checklists, repeat every maneuver until you are satisfied that it has been internalized, treat simulators like aircrafts, not games, and break down complex procedures into smaller action points that you can memorize. Lots of good tips there. We look forward to interviewing Keith soon.
We went to visit Alsim Flight Training Solutions. We flew their very realistic AATD simulator and looked at their C172 FTD. Alsim is a French manufacturer which has been producing simulators for 25+ years and has reached a level of immersion which we found absolutely impressive. We are planning a full review dedicated to their offerings, and a side by side comparison of approved simulators for flight schools and serious pilot proficiency training at home.
Thrustmaster was next, discussing two new products. The ‘pendular’ rudder control pedals which they have just launched, featuring impressive realism in sensitivity and feel, and the new military-grade USB headsets which is sure to make Vatsim or PilotEdge come to life. These products look great and work even better. As for many other offerings here at Oshkosh, we are looking forward to try them and report our findings to you.
Coming up in the next two days are interviews with: Frasca, FlyThisSim and RedBird. We look forward to talking to them.
Thanks for reading and, as always, let us know if you have any additional questions or comments.