New Simulator Trains Pilots For Spatial Disorientation

A new simulator is helping students at specialized undergraduate pilot training prepare for spatial disorientation before they even step into the cockpit, according to USAF officials with the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus AFB, Miss. The simulator replaces the “Barany Chair,” 100-year-old technology that gives the sensation of spatial disorientation but does not replicate a cockpit, according to an Air Force news release. When students “fly” the new simulator, they can experience how it feels and looks to roll, pitch, yaw, and take off, so they can learn how to recognize, prevent, and deal with spatial disorientation. “This device will save lives in the long run because it will prepare them for experiencing (spatial disorientation) inside the aircraft, allowing them to respond and react to it faster,” said Maj. Michael Fleming, 14th Medical Group Aerospace Physiology Flight commander. The simulators are operational at Columbus as well as at Sheppard AFB, Texas, and by January are slated to be part of training at Vance AFB, Okla., Laughlin AFB, Texas, and JBSA-Randolph, Texas.