TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - A Twin Falls Aviation school is getting students some time in the air without taking off from the ground.
Short Final Aviation just recently added a new Federal Aviation Administration certified full motion simulator. This goes along with three other aircraft in their fleet.
"We can take somebody from the very beginning and put them in the simulator and they can kind of go through what it feels like to manipulate the controls rather than put them in the airplane first," explained Garth Baker, the founder of the company.
The simulator is as realistic as it could get to flying a real plane, said student Taylor Morgan.
"It surprised me at how realistic it was. You really feel like you’re in an airplane and you have to use your headsets and everything so there’s no distractions. You get to talk to a real world airport," Morgan explained.
Baker can program the plane to have a path to go to any airport in the country. From there, they can also talk over headset to an operator on the other line. He can also program the software to have certain wind speeds, different weather conditions and even fail parts of the aircraft.
"They can shoot instrument approaches, log it. It’s a tool that we like to create pilots here, but we also want to create the safest pilots even out of the veterans," Baker continued. "So even if somebody has an issue or somebody wants some practice in crossway landings, for example, instead of going out there in the airplane, we can put them in the simulator, create that environment and they can become a better, safer pilot."
Morgan said he thought the simulator was helpful with real world scenarios that he might not be ready for.
"Like when the wind comes in strong from the cross winds or instruments go out, it’s a lot safer to do them in the simulator," he said. "I feel better doing it in the simulator than if it was a real world situation. I get a lot of good experience that way."
Baker said the simulator can be used anytime, unlike an aircraft as it's dependent on the weather.
"Say a student schedules a lesson, the weather goes down and we go into what we call instrument flight, where the flight rules, they can’t see, basically. We can now bring them in here, put them in the simulator and they don’t miss their lesson," he said.
Per FAA regulations, a pilot-in-training needs at least 40 hours minimum to become a private pilot. Baker said that can take months to at least a year depending on the student.
The simulator also allows more landings than a regular aircraft.
"In an hour in an airplane, it’s 10 landings. In an hour in the simulator, it’s going to be 20, 30 landings," Baker explained.
He said the school's goal is to put the students first.
"As the instructor, I now have the tool to ensure that the student has the correct tool to get the training they need to get, when the weather doesn’t allow it," Baker said.
He added that the school just moved to Twin Falls after being based in Jerome for a few years.
For more information on the school or flight simulator, visit Short Final Aviation's website.