MacDill pilots hone skills in flight simulator

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brittany Liddon
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
“In a realistic simulation environment, aircrews have the opportunity to practice the most challenging procedures under the most difficult of circumstances,” said Brett Pennington, site manager with CAE, the company that provides instructor pilots and maintainers for the Operational Flight Trainer (OFT). “They can hone their skills and greatly enhance their mission readiness, with no undue risk and at significantly less cost.”

The OFT provides KC-135 Stratotanker aircrew the opportunity to practice operational and emergency procedures in a full-motion, simulated flight environment under the instructional expertise of a CAE instructor.

“All systems and equipment operate as they do in the aircraft, providing an engaging environment that allows aircrew to train and maintain proficiency,” said Capt. Adam McAuley, a pilot assigned to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron (ARS).

During training in the OFT, the instructor pilot can change the weather, location and several other factors with the touch of a few buttons.

“The ability to demonstrate and react to complex emergency procedures is my favorite part of the simulator,” said McAuley. “We can train for the absolute worst case scenarios with no risk to the crews and better prepare ourselves for real world emergencies.”

MacDill is one of 13 locations that is home to one of 19 OFTs in the U.S. and internationally.

“Specifically at the MacDill site, CAE provides over 1,100 training periods in the OFT,” said Pennington. “That accounts for over 5,000 training hours in a year. On average, a pilot will have 11 required simulator periods annually, but may seek additional training when the OFT is available.”

The OFT, commonly known as the flight simulator, supports aircrew from the 91st and 63rd ARS, as well as other KC-135 units or aircrew visiting MacDill.

“When an aircrew finds themselves in an unenviable situation, perhaps over hostile territory, attempting to work through complex aircraft malfunctions while they accomplish their mission and safely recover their aircraft, they are going to fall back on their training,” said Pennington. “Chances are, that training was learned under the tutelage of a CAE Instructor, in a flight simulator.

“Accordingly, we take our role in providing training services very seriously. Our nation's defense counts on it.”