New flight simulator at Rickenbacker to boost local economy

Local News

A new flight simulator at Rickenbacker Air National Guard will allow pilots to go to Guam, the Middle East and even Las Vegas all in one day.

NBC4’s Colleen Marshall did just that during a recent visit to Rickenbacker.

“They took us down at one point and we drove down the strip of Vegas like we were going between in the hotels. We flew between them and you could see the fountains. It’s incredible,” Marshall said.

The flight simulator is designed to train military pilots who fly KC135 Stratotanker, a military aerial refueling aircraft. 

“It’s just a simulator, but as you will see (in the video) it seems very real,” Marshall said. “From the outside, it’s just a stationary capsule, but climb into the cockpit and you’re half world away.”

Marshall was a pilot for a day and took off in the flight simulator and was given the option of flying to Afghanistan or Iraq.

“So which way are we going? Let’s go to Vegas,” Marshall said.

Rickenbacker tanker pilots fly real fueling missions around the world daily, supporting combatant commanders in the Middle East and Pacific, Marshall said.

Military pilots used to train elsewhere but now will come to Rickenbacker to be trained on the flight simulator. Rickenbacker also has a simulator for boom operators who lie down to fuel fighter jets mid-air at 400 mph.

“It’s tricky, but vital work,” Marshall said.

Congressman Steve Stivers said the entire Ohio delegation lobbied for the flight simulator to come to Columbus, saying it will boost the local economy.

“Those folks will stay in hotels here, they will eat meals here, they’ll fuel our economy,” Stivers said.

While flying, Marshall at one point began taking a nose dive and was coached back on the right track.

“Oh, we’re going down fast,” Marshall said. 

“We just landed,” her training said back.

“This is like pulling into my garage,” Marshall said laughing.

Marshall said the technology on the simulator is incredible.

“From any director that you look you feel like you are there. They even copy the weather conditions that you’d likely face,” Marshall said.

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