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Taking off in HD
One of McConnell’s KC-135 Stratotanker flight simulators receives the updated high definition graphics Nov. 13, 2012, McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. McConnell is the largest KC-135 pilot training location in addition to Altus Air Force Base, Okla., where tanker pilots attend initial flight training. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales)
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Taking off in HD

Posted 11/15/2012   Updated 11/15/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Over the last few years McConnell training simulators have improved from the black and white paper airplane style graphics, to crystal-clear high definition graphics.

For a flight to succeed, many elements - including fuel, maintenance, mission planning and hours of training - must be completed prior to take-off. In order to curtail the cost and ensure Airmen are fully capable of completing the mission of providing aerial refueling anytime and anywhere, simulators where developed with black and white televisions. With the new graphics, McConnell Airmen can now complete more detailed training without ever leaving the ground.

"We put aircrew through things that you wouldn't want to see on the airplane, but would like them to be aware of," said David Kramer, KC-135 Stratotanker Aircrew Training System operations manager. "We do a lot of emergency procedures, so if they do have a problem, hopefully they will see it here first."

During the training, Airmen face hydraulic, fuel, electrical, engine and weather emergencies. With the new graphics, weather problems such as snow or storms are more realistic. For example, with the previous system when Airmen flew into a cloud the video would go black. Now a cloud decreases visibility, and the shading and contrast differs on a varying basis.

"The additional definition of the picture allows us to present a much more realistic video of the world to ensure Airmen are adequately prepared for the mission," said Kramer.

One of the Airmen who has gone used the new training concurs with Kramer's statement of a more realistic feel.

"The simulator is a great way for the Air Force to save money," said Scot Stewart, 22nd Operations Group training chief. "The more realistic the [practice] environment is, the better equipped we are to execute our mission."

While the new system allows for more training, another aspect that it allows is improved mission planning, said Stewart.

"These new visuals provide our Airmen with a more realistic view of the common airfields we visit worldwide," said Stewart. "If a pilot is plans to go to an airfield he or she has not been to before, they can hop into the simulator to get a perfect depiction of what that airfield and the surrounding area will look like."

The graphics updates are just one part of a larger plan to connect Air Force simulators together in order to ready Airmen on the ground, saving dollars in fuel, maintenance, training and planning Air Force-wide.

Whether it's training brand-new pilots or refreshing experienced ones, the simulators and their new HD visuals will continue to play a vital role for years to come in helping develop generations of aircrews throughout the world, said Kramer.

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