News: Flying on the ground: VMR-1 Marines train on simulators
Story by Lance Cpl. Glen Santy
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Climbing into the cockpit Maj. Bryan Donovan, the director of Safety and Standardization, and a search and rescue pilot with Marine Transport Squadron 1, and Maj. Alex Kushnir, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing aviation safety officer with 2nd MAW Safety, start the flight like any other. The Marines press buttons and turn switches checking all of the instruments of the HH-46E aircrew procedure trainer. The screen shows that they’ve taken off.
The Marines conducted the simulation training in addition to annual flight hours and additional hands on practice for situations that they are unable to rehearse while flying, Jan. 10.
“This training allows us to practice emergencies with the practical application unobtainable in the aircraft,” said Kushnir. “This also is an assessment of crew resource management. That is assessing how pilots interact in emergencies along with normal situations. How pilots interact can make all the difference in landing a damaged aircraft.”
VMR-1 is the proud host of the HH-46D Sea Knight helicopter, commonly known as “Pedro.” Their mission is to provide search and rescue support to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and the Eastern North Carolina region as well as provide short to medium range rapid response in cases of mishaps on or around base.
Along with flight emergencies the simulator also gives the Marines a chance to get a feel for flying the aircraft manually and in different scenarios including inclement weather.
“Some of the things we cover in the simulator are regular start-up and shut-downs, flight emergencies and instrument training,” said Kushnir. “Pedro actually flies in bad weather all the time so you can see why this training would be so important to us.”
“The first thing we do before we start the aircraft is cover the checklist,” said Donovan. “You can go over everything you need to check over and over in your head or sitting at your office but it means nothing until you actually get hands-on and convert it to muscle memory.”
Donovan also said the simulator is a great tool and it keeps the Marines training on them fresh and up to date.
The simulator is also a safe way for possible future Marines to give flying a try or for pilots to log initial or additional flight hours.
We have trained Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps midshipmen here, said Kushnir. “Better they crash here than out there.”
Kushnir said that nothing compares to the simulators as far as safety is concerned, but that there’s nothing like actually getting up in the air.