New virtual reality helps better train cadets

Digital Now

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Air Force Academy has launched a new Airmanship Next program, giving cadets more opportunities to experience the Air Force’s flying mission, hands-on.

Airmanship Next launched at the start of the fall semester, and cadets now are able to immerse themselves in live-flight at the airfield with this virtual reality (VR) training.

The program also helps reach cadets who may have been excluded in the past for bad weather or scheduling conflicts; rain or shine these cadets can get to training regardless.

“They’ll be using the simulators on the first day of their training and also throughout the course when we have bad weather, we can’t go flying for real they’ll get to do the training in the simulators,” Maj. Ben DeRiggi Powered Flight Program Flight Commander said.

Compared to other military simulators these are relatively low cost, allowing the Academy to purchase at least 15 more bringing the total between 25 and 30 simulators.

Being able to get accustomed to the planes via VR helps cadets boost confidence in flying and calm the nerves they may have, especially if they’ve never flown before.

“It’s just getting us more comfortable with it more used to where all the flight controls are and more used to some of the things we’re going to be seeing when we’re actually flying,” said Cadet 2nd Class Matthew Stener. “Some of the concerns with keeping the air speeders, keeping the altitude you may not know that and it’s easier to know that now when you’re in a simulator, and you don’t have to worry about actually crashing into anything, versus when you’re in an actual plane with all the noise, all the motion, and all that.”

This program is the difference between training a blank slate cadet and a cadet who already seems to have one or two flights under their belt.

The goal of the Airmanship program is to provide an operations-based experience utilizing current and immerging assets centered on one of the Air Force’s three core mission domains – Airpower – in order to develop Leaders of Character for today and tomorrow’s Air Force.  The continued success of Airmanship Next is crucial to ensuring the Academy graduates and commissions the best-prepared rated candidates for the Air Force.

U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

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