NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Del. – Visitors to the Delaware Air National Guard Base often overlook the tan building behind the maintenance hangar. Inside this windowless structure resides the base’s C-130H2 Hercules flight simulator.
The building’s interior is painted flat black. Encircled by whiteboards, conference tables and flat-screen televisions is the large black box containing the simulator, its outer wall decorated with four oversize 166th Airlift Wing and Air National Guard patches.
Climb the three steps into the sim and enter a world of huge touch-screen TVs that display every dial, button, gauge and knob that exist in the cockpit of a real C-130H2 Hercules. The flight deck contains four stations – pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and navigator – the same as the actual aircraft. The yokes, throttles, seats, tiller and rudders are all from a decommissioned C-130, making the simulator experience as close to the real thing as possible.
“The notion that the base flight simulator is a big, expensive video game couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Steve Verdinelli, flight engineer instructor. “Make no mistake, it’s an indispensable training tool for flight crews and maintainers, and a touchpoint for aspiring young aviators and influential community leaders.”
The 166th Airlift Wing’s flight simulator serves three primary purposes: building better aircrews by boosting their cockpit proficiency; training maintenance personnel and dedicated crew chiefs in system diagnostics and engine run procedures; and as a community relations and recruitment catalyst.
The sim helps train flight crews for all contingencies. Whether it’s a loss of an engine, structural component, gauge malfunction, or any other in-flight failure, the sim provides an opportunity to troubleshoot and overcome a problem in a non-life-threatening environment. Verdinelli, who monitors the sim during flight training, has at his fingertips a menu of programmed in-flight emergencies he can spring on the crew without warning. He then guides the crew through problem-solving strategy.
The sim also provides an opportunity for maintainers and dedicated crew chiefs to flesh out maintenance issues.
“The simulator offers an effective training instrument for our maintainers to enhance their proficiency in troubleshooting maintenance issues on the aircraft,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin L. Gordon, 166thMXS/CRF superintendent. “It also helps teach our crew chiefs and maintainers engine run procedures.”
Finally, the sim is an interactive, hands-on experience for base visitors. While tour groups visit many of the 166th Airlift Wing’s units, the sim provides them with a truly unforgettable experience.
The 166th Airlift Wing’s C-130H2 Hercules flight simulator is an essential training tool that brings to life the cornerstone of the mission: To provide world-class capability for the state and nation through the rapid mobilization and deployment of C-130H2 Hercules aircraft and personnel worldwide to meet peacetime and wartime contingencies.