Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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MHK gets bird’s eye view of post

By Julie Fiedler | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | June 11, 2014

Soaring above the White House and past the Washington Monument, a team from Manhattan Regional Airport, or MHK, explored Washington, acting as a helicopter crew in a CH-47 Chinook.

The catch? They were still on the ground at Fort Riley in a Transportable Flight Proficiency Simulator.

With a lot of Fort Riley aircraft trafficking through MHK and occasional mutual aid between the air traffic control facilities, Peter Van Kuren, airport director, MHK, said he wanted to bring his team out to see Fort Riley’s aviation operation. The team got an overview of Fort Riley’s air traffic control, airfield operations, flight simulators and engagement skills trainer May 29 at Marshall Army Airfield.

“We wanted to do something a little bit different,” Van Kuren said of the departmental outing. “It’s a great opportunity just to come over here.”

Van Kuren said the visit was a first for the team, which included MHK administration and maintenance staff.

“One of the things we focus on is just operating as a team, and we do that at the airport every day,” he said. “The military is nothing but teamwork.”

The team flew several simulators, including the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer, or AVCATT.

“It was fun,” said Jameelah Mitchell, office assistant, MHK, after exiting the AVCATT. “It felt like we were in an actual helicopter, and, basically, we were learning how to power up, keep the nose of the helicopter level and learn a bit left and right turning.”

The simulators provide a way for aviators to maintain proficiency, while delivering cost savings, said Frank Carbonneau, lead instructor and quality assurance representative, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

“Primarily, it’s for maintaining proficiency,” he said. “Once they’re proficient here, they go out to the range and actually qualify.”

The cost of operating an actual aircraft can range from $4,000 to $10,000 per hour, depending on the type of aircraft. The cost of operating a simulator is about $300 per hour.

“It’s quite a bit of cost savings,” Carbonneau said, adding ammunition can further drive up actual costs versus that of the simulator.

The simulators also are incredibly lifelike.

“Today’s simulators are equipped with visual systems, sound, vibration, instrumentation, radio communication and intercom systems that combine to simulate actual helicopter environmental conditions,” he said. “Visual databases are available, allowing aviators to conduct mission training or familiarize themselves with a new duty assignment prior to any change of station.”

The flight scenarios and databases can be configured for different missions, like night vision, emergency operations, gunnery and more, in a variety of different areas, like the Washington simulation the MHK staff experienced. “

Today’s modern simulators can be configured to meet the needs of individual aviators, crews and the training needs of the unit,” Carbonneau said, adding Fort Riley provides regional support for military aviators in surrounding states.

In addition to being fully customizable, the simulators maximize training time and allow for immediate feedback.

Having the opportunity to see Fort Riley’s operations lets the MHK team see new aspects of aviation, Van Kuren said.

“This is all new stuff for us,” he said. “To see their side of it is advantageous.” 
  

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