Today we had our first runs in the 180 Degree Simulator. I did mine just after supper. I was a bit nervous, but not paralyzingly-so… Let me start from the beginning! Basically, it is a medium-sized room, with a desk/console in it, and 4 large screens on the walls, angled to surround you 180 degrees (hence the name). The screens are each about 4 feet high and 5 feet wide. the screens are rear-projected (there are LCD projectors behind the walls) and of course, it is all hooked up into a very spiffy computer. The program is custom-made; the coolest flight simulator by far!! The console has about 4 screens (couple of computers, a screen for displaying wind and altimeter info, another to control the runway lighting, that kind of thing). They have lots of aircraft programmed in, but we only see about 12, I think, including a couple of helicopters. In the simulation, pretend pilots in another room call you up and say they are coming in to land, etc, and you tell them what they need to know, and before long you can see them on one of the screens (as a tiny airplane-dot :). As I said before, you have to be very careful what to say – phraseology. For example, you cannot say the “winds” are such-and-such. There is only one “wind.” That was one of my mistakes. Besides talking, you have to watch for certain things, do certain things on the computer, turn runway lights on and off, and try to remember approximately 50 things for certain things to do in certain situations. 🙂
It may sound a little overwhelming (and it is, the first time you are in it), but the run itself was not too stressful. I made some mistakes, but nothing unusual for someone in there the first time! After memorizing so many facts about this pretend airport (that is programmed in the simulator), it is nice to talk to pretend pilots and see the pretend planes land! After my run, I had arranged to sit in on one of my classmate’s runs, to just watch and review in my brain what I should have done when, including simple but important stuff like turning off the landing lights when the plane has landed and no longer needs them. 🙂
Not much else to report right now; I have another 20-minute run tomorrow, and another one (not sure how long) on Friday. We will have them almost every day now, with each run getting a bit more complicated than the one before. We have 8 runs before our first evaluation (which is 2 weeks from now!) and about 45 runs total before we finish. So, I will see “the 180” a lot more in the coming months, which is good, since you sure wouldn’t want to do this job without this much practice!!
Hope everyone is doing well; I’ll update again when I have more to report. 🙂