Weather officers receive new static trainer

  • Published
  • By Jessica L. Kendziorek
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron weather officers received a new static training station July 19.

“This aerial reconnaissance weather officer static trainer has been in the works for the last four years,” said Lt. Col. Kaitlyn McLaughlin, 53rd WRS ARWO. “We have been working with the development team at the 502nd Trainer Development Flight to complete this one-of-a-kind training device.”

The ARWO static trainer is a replica of the weather pallet from the WC-130J Super Hercules, which include the window the weather officer looks out of to view the storm and waves on the surface of the water and includes the control panel located in front of the weather officer’s seat.

“This trainer will be used to rerun previous missions to assist in the training of new weather officers to simulate what it is like to be on the aircraft both in the storm environment and on regular training missions, all while staying on the ground,” said McLaughlin.

While the trainer is static the information that it is using is real and derived from previous missions, which includes weather data from the weather officer’s pallet, along with video and audio data gathered from previous storm missions.

The 53rd WRS reached out to the 502nd TDF, who fabricated the ARWO static trainer and developed the software for the instructor station.

“The purpose of this trainer is to have a static, lower stress classroom environment to run through operations and procedures that students will need to know in a real mission,” said William Cochran, 502nd TDF electrical engineer.

The static trainer incorporated a mix between operational equipment, some simulated and some static equipment. The actual equipment includes the flight computer and other pieces of specialized hardware.

“The simulated equipment is composed of screens that play generated content that is synchronized with real-world data gathered from actual missions,” said Cochran. “These displays are controlled by the static operator station where the operator can generate missions with sound and video for the students that is coordinated with the replayed mission.”

This trainer allows new weather students to run checklists, play back old missions, view what the weather officer sees out the window, see what the displays would have shown, and gives them the ability to run through multiple missions they would see in the real environment.

McLaughlin said that it takes up to a year for an ARWO to become fully mission qualified.

“The goal of using the static trainer for the basic and storm students is to assist with training, and we are working to build this into our curriculum,” said McLaughlin. “Its use is projected to save approximately 30 percent of training flight time, and there is the ability to have more interactions between the instructor and student versus during an actual storm mission where time is a factor and feedback can be limited.”

Other uses of the static trainer are to rerun particularly difficult missions or missions that can be considered case studies.

“We have data saved in archive for research purposes, which is now going to be used for this training,” said McLaughlin. “So, for the student rerunning the mission for training, it will be like they were on the actual flight.”

McLaughlin also said they are working to get the use of the trainer for ARWO currency training approved through the Air Force Reserve Command.