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Pilot Proficiency Center Helps Aviators Prep for Flight Challenges

By Randy Dufault

July 23, 2017 - Simulation provides a vehicle to learn and practice flight tactics that are impractical, and sometimes impossible, before experiencing them in the real world.

For example, “Most people aren’t tested on crosswind landings,” said Charlie Gregoire, president and COO of Redbird Flight Simulations. “They are tested theoretically, but never in an environment where you are going to have an 18-knot crosswind component. You just are not doing your checkride that day.”

Gregoire’s company is donating the use of an Xwind training system to this year’s EAA AirVenture Pilot Proficiency Center so that any pilot, with any level of experience, can learn and practice what happens when a crosswind gust and other real-world factors affect the last moments of a landing.

Along with the Xwind trainer, 14 Redbird LD flight simulators support the 27 different training scenarios any pilot can fly in the PPC.

In its second year anchoring one of the EAA Four Corners, more than 2,000 pilots are expected to take part in the center’s free training. Drawing on last year’s success, the center added several more volunteer flight instructors and another simulator.

Beyond the simulation scenarios, a broad range of Tech Talks covering such diverse topics as backcountry flying and IFR situational awareness are being held throughout each day this week.

According to Gregoire, a key goal for the training is encouraging pilots to find ways to develop their skills year-round.

New this year is a simulation to help pilots understand what the weather information depicted on a portable device or panel-mounted multifunction display really means.

“People think that that time stamp [on the screen] is the weather time,” Mary Johnson of Purdue University said. “It’s not. That is the uplink time to the satellite. All the time it took to pull in all the weather sources, generate the images, and then prepare those to go to your aircraft … is not included in that time stamp.”

The weather simulation, known as the Weather Information Latency Demonstrator, or WILD, uses real-world METAR and TAF weather data to generate both outside and inside views on the simulator. An adjustment allows instructors to alter the age of the displayed data and teaching techniques for proper interpretation.

What started as a joint effort between the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) and Redbird, the PPC has evolved over the course of six years into a key part of the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh experience. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

All the simulation scenarios are available while the center is open. Schedules for the Tech Talks are available in the forums schedule section of AirVenture Today.

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