Recently, some of the V-FORCE team went to White Waltham Airfield to visit our COO, and Flight Beyond Sight owner, Jamie Anderson. This was the first time I had a chance to see the venue and the amazing technology the company has to offer. When we arrived, we were led through the helicopter flight school's hangar to get to the Flight Beyond Sight office. Inside, we found a number of flight simulator rigs set up with VR headsets.
Flight Beyond Sight is a truly unique company that provides cutting-edge training at incredibly low costs compared to more traditional training methods. From providing flight simulator training using VR headsets to producing 360 video lessons to be used in the classroom. This enables students to learn outside the cockpit no matter the weather, at a fraction of the cost.
The first part of the training we took part in was helicopter flying. V-FORCE CEO, Chris Vosper took the controls first and flew effortlessly. I guess his experience flying AH-64 Apaches paid off! Chris was incredibly impressed with the kit and said how accurate the flying felt with the VR and the reactive nature of the simulator seat. Then it was my turn. I sat in the simulator and put on the VR headset, got comfortable, and then took to the skies using HOTAS (hands on throttle-and-stick) flight controls that perfectly matched the controls of the aircraft we were flying.
As my background is in Marketing, not the military, I had never flown a helicopter. I was talked through the controls and then took off from a perfectly rendered digital version of the White Waltham flight school. I quickly got the hang of the helicopter controls and took off over the nearby countryside. My flying was nowhere near as smooth as Chris’ but I was managing the basics. This was amazing, if I was a new student, I would never get to have free roam in a real helicopter.
As the day unfolded, we flew a number of different aircraft, from Spitfires to modern fighter jets, with representative controls provided for each type. It was a fantastic experience and despite my head spinning from the sheer amount of information I had to absorb, it was abundantly clear what a remarkable tool for training this technology is.
Working closely with Jamie and Flight Beyond Sight is perfect for V-FORCE as we want to ensure we are providing the best training possible using all the incredible tools that are available. We currently have VR headsets configured with Flight Beyond Sight’s 360 lessons showing key manoeuvres for our tactical and advanced driving training. This enables us to show students how to perform each driving manoeuvre, such as a handbrake turn, prior to practising it for real. It may then be used by each student to reinforce the learning process as often as necessary.
We are in the exploratory stages of getting similar simulators and VR setups, to allow us to offer the same quality of training for our Professional Vehicle Skills Training. This means that any of our students can practice in the safety of a classroom before going to our Walters Arena training ground to do it in reality.
It was amazing to see how far the training has come, from full motion Eurocopter EC225 flight simulators costing $18 million to a modern VR motion based solution being around £40000. This does not even take into account the feeling of being there because of the VR and the flexibility of swapping between aircraft in under 2 minutes. Thanks again to Jamie & Flight Beyond Sight for letting us test out his simulators, it was a fantastic experience and valuable research to take back to V-FORCE HQ!