Air Force Reserve aircrew jump into virtual parachute training

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

If an aircrew member is using a parachute, they are probably having a really bad day.

Preparing aircrew for that possibility is the responsibility of the survival, evasion, resistance, escape, or SERE, instructors at the 403rd Wing here.

Tech. Sgt. Ethan Perry is one of those instructors. Perry and others assigned to the 403rd Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment section provide parachute training for crewmembers and has offered virtual reality parachute simulator training for years. In August, they received the upgraded BA-30 parachute Parasim simulator.

The Parism simulator allows instructors to set up scenarios on the computer and then the trainee flies the canopy while viewing the experience through virtual reality goggles.

“The first time a C-130J Super Hercules aircrew member may have to jump out of an aircraft and use a parachute could be during a real-world crisis, so it’s imperative that they learn emergency hanging harness parachute training,” said Perry. “It’s the best thing they can do without jumping out of the plane. That is why this virtual trainer is so beneficial because it gives them experience on what it’s going to look like and shows them what they are doing correctly or incorrectly.”

According to Senior Master Sgt. Vidall Miller, AFE superintendent, every crew member is required to take parachute training every three years. He added that parachute training class is taught about 10 times a year and an average of 50 crewmembers are trained annually.

“This simulator allows aircrew to react to several different scenarios they may encounter during an in-flight emergency,” he said.

Aircrew members don virtual reality goggles and are locked into the harness. The simulator then raises them up where they hang as they would from a parachute, and they can use the oxygen, automatic activation device, and rip cord.

“All of this is input into the simulator, which allows them to experience what it is like to fly the parachute while gauging winds and where to land,” said Perry. “Also, as part of their training they must react to a parachute malfunction, so they know how to correct it in the air.”

Master Sgt. Taylor Noel, a loadmaster with the 403rd OSS and flies with the 815th Airlift Squadron, has tandem jumped recreationally, but said the virtual reality trainer provides valuable experience.

“If you find yourself in an emergency, having gone through the motions and felt yourself hanging from it and move it and see it on a screen is much different than having someone brief this by PowerPoint,” said Noel. “Having gone through the motions before raises your level of confidence if you are in that situation.”

Miller added that the Parism trainer isn’t standard piece of equipment at all bases, however most SERE shops have the device to ensure aircrew receive quality training in the event of an in-flight emergency.