USA (MNN) — Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has acquired a new high-tech flight simulator, providing another tool to help prepare its pilots for the challenging conditions they face when flying in remote parts of the world.
With funds raised by the MAF Ministry Advocates — a volunteer group — supplemented by a matching grant, MAF purchased the RedBird SD flight training device for approximately $60,000.
This new piece of equipment is a fully enclosed Advanced Aviation Training Device that is certified by the FAA. With visuals that wrap around the device and realistic flight controls, pilots have an opportunity to experience a simulated flight with conditions similar to the environments in which they will fly.
"This new RedBird enables us to do a lot of training that we couldn't do before," said Paul Bergen, MAF's aviation training manager. "We can experience the overseas environment-we can see the exact terrain. We can fly in the mountains and over rivers and give pilots an experience similar to what they're going to see when they arrive on the field."
By training at Idaho's backcountry airstrips, MAF is able to duplicate the mountainous terrain of various countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Matching the atmospheric conditions of those places isn't so easy. With the new flight simulator, an instructor can introduce weather and other variables such as causing a plane to malfunction with low oil or instrument failures, or simulate engine failure. Bergen says it will be especially useful for training pilots to fly in instrument-only situations, where visibility is limited.
"It gives us a much more realistic experience than we had before," Bergen said.
Mission Aviation Fellowship (www.maf.org) is a family of organizations with a singular mission: to share the love of Jesus through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed. Serving in 32 countries with more than 140 planes, recent MAF work has supported famine relief efforts in Kenya, combatted measles and cholera outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and provided aid to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.