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RAF's new state-of-the-art simulator trains parachute jumpers
April 14, 2011 | Howard Lichtman
It's Google earth for RAF jumpers
RAF recruits are using a state-of-the-art simulator to learn how to parachute safely.
Students at RAF Brize Norton's parachute training school use harnesses and virtual reality goggles to 'jump' in a range of different environments.
Instructors can simulate rain, fog and snow, and choose any time of day or night. Wind speed and direction can also be adjusted to make the descent more challenging.
Last night instructors praised the new £500,000 system at the Carterton RAF base.
Sgt Andy Gillett said: "The simulator gives us the ability to put paratroopers through highly realistic parachute descents, including emergency scenarios.
"Trainees can be familiarised with, and tested on, the correct drills to a level previously only achieved by jumping from an aircraft."
Flight Lieutenant Rich Pike said: "The new parachute trainer gives us the ability to put paratroopers through highly realistic simulated parachute descents.
"Trainees can be familiarised with, and tested on, the correct drills to a level previously only achieved by jumping from an aircraft.
"The most important feature is its ability to hone emergency procedures, which will better prepare trainees to deal with the range of situations they could encounter in a live environment."
The instructor can view what each trainee is seeing through their goggles on high-resolution screens, as well as an overall picture of the individual or group descent.
Emergency situations are created so the parachutist can practice drills realistically but safely, with the performance recorded on video for feedback.
Wing Commander Stu Williams, from Airborne Delivery Wing, which runs the school, said: "The new simulator is a great example of the RAF's commitment to providing the most up-to-date and cost effective facilities to deliver realistic training in a safe environment.
"Although trainers such as this can never replace live descents, they do mean we can practice safety procedures over and over again in a controlled, safe and realistic virtual environment, until the student gets it right, improving their overall awareness and training."
Students can to jump in three environments, a village, wooded area, or water.
Russ Cole, one of the designers, said: "The new trainer will give students a real-time experience in a virtual world that simulates a parachute descent in either free fall or static line.
"In this realistic virtual world parachutists will be able to learn, rehearse and practice parachute procedures in a cost effective, safe environment."
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