Spatial disorientation trainer reaches one year milestone

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Robert L. McIlrath
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

For the past year, the student pilots attending the 80th Flying Training Wing’s Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, have been using the GYRO Integrated Physiological Trainer II to get hands-on, realistic spatial disorientation training.

Modeled after a T-6A Texan II cockpit, the GYRO IPT II allows student pilots to feel, recognize, and correct the effects of spatial disorientation before they ever strap in and actually fly an airframe, reducing the safety risk for student and instructor pilots.

“Spatial Disorientation was the second leading cause of human factors-related Class A mishaps in fiscal year 2015,” said 1st Lt. Derek Wibben, 82nd Aerospace and Operational Physiology officer in charge. “This simulator is a revolutionary way to help prevent future spatial disorientation mishaps, saving lives and aircraft.”

With over 196 student pilots trained using the GYRO IPT II so far, the trainer is already having a significant effect on the quality and safety of pilot training.

“Flight operations, especially training operations, carry an inherent risk, so any time you can reduce that risk it’s good for the mission,” said Capt. Taylor Zahm, 80th Operations Support Squadron. “The GYRO will allow students to start developing skill before they ever leave the ground.”

The maximum capabilities of the trainer are almost limitless.

“We can create additional aircraft within the flying environment to practice flying in formation in inclement weather or nighttime,” Wibben said. “In mid-flight, we have full control of the time of day, weather including clouds, precipitation and wind. We can even change the star and moon brightness or cultural lighting brightness seen at night.”

Sheppard was the first base to receive the new trainer, making its debut to student pilots in June 2015, nearly seven months ahead of schedule, allowing the 82 TRW to showcase their most advanced training technologies to 80th FTW and their NATO allies, strengthening that partnership.

In January 2016, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas received an identical GYRO IPT II. Sheppard’s Aerospace Physiology unit hosted specific training for the sister units operating the GYRO IPT II.

“The GYRO IPT II is vital to operations because it allows us to challenge student pilots in an academic situation with realistic dynamic flight training while saving fuel and resources,” said Lt. Col Stephen Wolf, 82nd AMDS Commander.