HAMPTON, Va. - The Air Force is using virtual reality simulation as an additional tool to help train pilots.
Students learning to fly the A-10 Thunderbolt II at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona are among those strapping on the virtual reality goggles.
"Training includes all aspects of operating the A-10 to include, but not limited to: ground operations, start-taxi-take offs, landings, formation flying, weapons employment, threat reactions, air-to-air refueling and other critical capabilities. We are leveraging stand-alone VR goggle systems that allow students to view 360-degree camera footage of flying actual missions from an instructor’s point of view. This gives them a real time chair flying experience to view the rate at which sight pictures and tasks happen," explained Major Drew Glowa, 355th TRS instructor pilot, in an Air Force release.
The virtual reality training is being implemented through innovating funding and was approved by Air Combat Command, headquartered at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton.
It's also allowing student pilots to train in an environment where mistakes can be made without huge consequences like in the actual cockpit.
"This prepares them for flying events better than any other training tool we have at a higher availability," Glowa added. "Now we can review specific tasks in a real world environment by supplementing our four traditional simulator bays and giving students 22 more cockpits to practice on their own or with an instructor. We can expedite ground training to prepare students for flights at a pace we have never seen."
The Air Force says virtual reality is an addition to the training aresenal, and they are not cutting flights or flying hours for students as a result.