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The Coyote Caller

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The Coyote Caller

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Aviation students soar into the sky with new flight simulators

Students+practice+their+landing+skills+on+the+flight+simulator.+
Scott Hoskins
Students practice their landing skills on the flight simulator.

Imagine being a high school student behind the yoke of an aircraft as it soars through the blue skies. This might seem far-fetched unless the student has taken expensive flying lessons.

However, thanks to a federal grant, students in Mr. Gerald Steffens’ aviation program have just this opportunity. In March, technicians installed a large flight simulator along with 13 smaller simulators. The flight simulators cost over $250,000 for the equipment and software. They came from Redbird Simulators, a company from Austin, Texas.

The systems include MCX, Training Devices, and Jay Velocities. Four of the systems are Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Advanced Aviation Training Devices and can be used to build training hours for private, instrument, and commercial ratings, along with maintaining instrument-rated currency.

The difference in learning about aviation from before the flight simulators to after they were installed has been like the difference between crawling and running.

“It provides real-world training and allows students to apply skills learned from classroom instruction,” Mr. Steffen said. “Plus sim training provides them with flight training hours, which some can be logged as FAA time. Basically, it provides practical training.”

Hudson Davis

Sophomore Hudson Davis explained the difference to him. “Before, it was more about learning the fundamentals of how flight works. Now, we try to simulate flight procedures inside the cockpit.”

Sophomore Liam Jenkins agreed. “It’s way more hands-on than before. You get to actually see how it works and the result of what you did.”

Liam Jenkins

Using a flight simulator teaches students things about flight that reading about and watching videos cannot. Although flying a plane looks effortless on television, television does not show all the steps that pilots must perform before, during and after  the flight.

Brianna Kessler

According to sophomore Brianna Kessler, using the flight simulator shows the effects of weather and wind. Learning about those effects is much different than actually seeing and feeling how wind and weather affect the aerodynamics of a plane.

Davis compared it to putting together a puzzle. Being in a flight simulator shows “what you need to do with certain steps. It’s like a puzzle. You can only put one [piece] in at a time.”

All three students agreed that their favorite part of using the flight simulator was how relaxing it was but that it forced them to pay attention.

“It’s very relaxing once you’re up in the air,” Jenkins said. “You know the circumstances of everything and you have to pay attention to what you’re doing.”

Kessler appreciated the challenge. “It’s kind of like driving a car but times ten. You still have the same dangers and the same principles, but you’re more likely to die flying a plane if you make a mistake.”

“There’s so many things you have to pay attention to,” Davis said. “It keeps you occupied.”

The simulators allow students to fly in and out of real-world “airports all around the world as long as they are registered through ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). Students find this super cool,” Mr. Steffens said.

The aviation program is in its first year at the school. Mr. Steffen hopes that by students’ senior years, they can obtain their private pilot license or be on the way to receiving it.

“We already have students with their Part 107 unmanned pilot license, and next year we plan on having students work on their private pilot license to include passing their written exam,” Mr. Steffen said.

Students who had not thought about being able to pilot a plane are now eager to earn their wings.

“At first it was just something cool to take, but from the beginning of school until now, I want to make it my career,” Davis said.

Kessler said that Mr. Steffen talked to her about it last year, and it made her want to become a pilot. “Learning about the fundamentals at the beginning and using the flight simulator has made me think about becoming a pilot,” she said.

Davis wants everyone to know that the class is not for those unserious about aviation.

“This class does take time, effort, and dedication,” he said. “It’s not your average easy class. It will push you to your limits and make you the best of what you can do.”

Workers put together the big flight simulator in Mr. Steffens’ room. (Scott Hoskins)
Scott Hoskins
Scott Hoskins
Scott Hoskins
Scott Hoskins
Scott Hoskins
Scott Hoskins
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About the Contributor
Scott Hoskins
Scott Hoskins, Journalism Adviser
Mr. Hoskins is the faculty adviser for the yearbook and student newspaper. He has 25 years of experience as a classroom teacher and library media specialist.