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Simulation Gets Closer to Reality With Virtual Flight Academy
By Randy Dufault
July 21, 2018 - Simulation technology is finally at a point where true instruction for experienced pilots and, more importantly, for prospective pilots is a reality, according to Brandon Seltz, founder and CEO of TakeFlight Interactive.
“I’ve had the aviation bug since I was young,” Brandon said. “I soon saw the opportunity to create a new technology, our virtual flight instructor, to make your time in simulators far more effective. It’s not intended to replace a real flight instructor, but to help make your experience of learning to fly, or improving your proficiency, much more efficient and fun.”
TakeFlight combined innovations in artificial intelligence, game-based learning, and data analytics to create a new capability — a virtual flight instructor. This virtual instructor guides users through maneuvers in the simulator, just as a flight instructor would in a real airplane.
EAA has teamed up with TakeFlight to create the Virtual Flight Academy (VFA). VFA consists of the first six instructional modules of the TakeFlight program and is free to EAA members, a first for the industry. The next six modules parallel the curriculum necessary for a first solo and are available to members at a discount.
TakeFlight plans to implement the entire private pilot training program in the near future.
In each module, the virtual instructor first presents the lesson and potentially demonstrates the included maneuvers. The student then flies the maneuvers with commentary and help from the instructor. Each effort then receives a score based on the FAA’s airman certification standards so students are able to track their proficiency and progress exactly as they would in a real aircraft.
Two versions of the free module are available: one geared for EAA members and another geared toward Young Eagles that uses the voice of Aviore, the Young Eagles superhero mascot.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 attendees can try the Young Eagles version of VFA on three world-class at-home flight-simulator stations, sponsored by Thrustmaster and Volair, inside the Innovation Showcase at Aviation Gateway Park. A scoring leader board will promote a bit of friendly competition.
VFA is also available to try at a number of other locations on the grounds, only with simpler flight controls.
VFA is designed for and requires Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition. A download of either version can be found at www.EAA.org/vfa.