ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. —
Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, has been training pilots and aircrew for decades, but over the past six years, much of that training has evolved with technology.
New weapons training systems and simulators take up most of new students’ time at school, and now the AAFB has added an additional set of KC-46 Pegasus simulators to better prepare their student pilots and pole vaulters.
On November 2, 2022, a delivery of two new KC-46 simulators, one for pilots and one for boom operators, arrived. This is the sixth set of KC-46 simulators to be housed at the AAFB and, for now, the last simulators to be installed in the school. The simulator is set up as a large box, with hydraulics underneath to ensure all movement is
similar to what students would feel during an actual flight.
“In the plane, you have a lot of illusions that could arise as a result of the motion you feel when you’re in the simulator,” said KC-46 Pegasus student pilot 1st Lt. Peyton Chester. “You can create a more difficult scenario of being in the clouds or being in adverse weather conditions. So when we actually do that in the future, I feel like we’ll have a lot of challenges. experience in tough scenarios and it will translate to better performance on the road.
Even though the pilots and crew don’t really fly in the sky at first, the realism of the simulators is one of the many aspects that create proficient and adaptive AAFB Schools Airmen.
“We always try to stay realistic when it comes to real time,” said Nicola Borghini, KC-46 chief instructor pilot. “They fly with headsets, and the instructors play the pole vaulter and the team leader. We do all the radio calls, so when they go to fly the jet, they’re more used to that kind of stuff. operation.
While most pilots who take this training have flown different types of aircraft before, the KC-46 is in a class of its own, so the aircraft simulator must also be equally unique.
“It’s better than anything smaller we’ve ever ridden,” Chester said. “I’ve never had a full motion simulator to help me fly so having the feel of things here means we’ll have more time to get to the real plane and now I have a bit more confidence in me.”
Of course, the training of these students does not end with the simulators, but the lessons that are taught during this critical period are invaluable in training versatile crews and pilots.
“We take the student on as a new pilot, then we turn him into a world-class aviator on a high-class aircraft,” said KC-46 contractor representative Stephen Grice. “I think we do it with great skill. When they leave here they should be very confident and capable and they should be able to go out into the world and take on any environment.