Courtesy of Times Record News, June 29 2015
Getting a pilot’s license is not a cheap endeavor, ranging from $10,000-$13,000 to earn a private pilot license.
The use of a flight simulator can save would-be student pilots and give them invaluable time in a cockpit without spending a lot of money to do so. That’s why Martin Bohn installed the $140,000 Redbird MCX simulator at Cobra Kai Flight Academy at Kickapoo Downtown Airport.
“This advanced training device can do all of the flight maneuvers as a real plane can do,” the former German air force pilot and instructor pilot at Sheppard Air Force Base said. “We can substitute real flying with simulator time.”
Bohn said the technology is beneficial in four ways: It reduces cost for students; time is more effective because the student can spend more time in a cockpit; an instructor can stop and restart a specific section of training, which can’t be done in a real aircraft; and the students can actually do some training modules on their own.
The simulator is configured to show four different aircraft flight decks including a Piper Archer, Beech Bonanza, Beech Baron 55 and 58, and a Cessna 182 with a Garmon 1000 glass cockpit avionics package. Bohn said they are hoping to add more configurations in September.
Simulator time can account for a percentage of a student’s course work, depending on the type of license the student is seeking. The simulator can account for 2½ hours of training for a private pilot’s license, 20 percent for instrument training, and 40 percent for a commercial license.
For example, Bohn said 190 flying hours is needed to earn a commercial license, and 40 percent of those hours can come from simulator training.
Neil Senkowski, a C-17 Galaxy III pilot in the Air Force with about 4,000 flying hours already logged, was working on an air transport pilot license Friday when the Times Record News spoke to him. He was scheduled to make his final checkoff flight on Saturday.
Senkowski said the simulator at Cobra Kai, compared with that of the military, is a bit different, but student pilots are still able to learn procedures and muscle memory to respond when the student gets behind the yoke of an actual aircraft.
“The training you get from a simulator is definitely invaluable training,” he said. “ … This simulator is definitely helpful for the students.”
Bohn said the positive outcome for the student is they can train faster and better because of the repetition a simulator allows. What takes three hours in an actual aircraft could take a third or half that time in the simulator. He said instructors can take students to any location virtually and help them learn approaches, takeoffs and landings anywhere in the country.
Bohn said the simulator allows students to make mistakes on the ground, and the instructor can pause the program and correct the problem. It also allows students to learn to fly in any weather conditions without having to actually fly in those conditions.
The Wichita Falls City Council approved a Wichita Falls Economic Development Corp. incentive package worth $140,000 in April for Cobra Kai Flight Academy to get the equipment.