JSU’s Air Force ROTC program is soaring to new heights with its new flight simulator

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 10:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson State has a new Air Force flight simulator program that engages and equips cadets with the technical aspects and hands-on training necessary for piloting a commercial or military-grade aircraft.

The program is designed to provide additional hours of training for cadets interested in becoming a pilot. Only cadets on the fence about becoming a pilot can learn more about the career pathway through introductory training and exposure.

“Yes, about 2% of pilots are African American,” said Jackson State ROTC Lieutenant Colonel Jarreau Jones.

Jones says there are lots of factors behind these staggering statistics.

“Exposure is one, and realizing that this is something that’s available to you, and seeing people who look like them and having the opportunities that are available is second,” Jones said. “So, between those things and knowing it is something that’s available to them and something that’s attainable,” Operations Flight Commander Lieutenant Colonel Jarreau Jones said.

Jackson State University is trying to change that statistic and push for more diversity within the Air Force, especially getting the underrepresented interested in flight training.

“So, what we’re looking at is we want to increase that number,” said Jones. “The Air Force has a bold legacy of breaking barriers. If you look back to the Tuskegee Airmen and Women Air Service Pilots, what we are trying to do is reinvigorate and get in touch with that history.”

That is where this Air Force flight simulator comes in.

It allows students to command the skies from the classroom.

“We have the ability to fly anywhere in North America, anywhere in South America, and in airfields in Europe,” said Jones.

This the state of art simulator replicates a cockpit environment that a student or cadet will see in any commercial or military setting.

“We have a seat that we have set up three monitors with 135-degree field of view, that is going to enable cadets to really kind get those visual cues while being on the ground to simulate what they are doing in aircraft,” Jones said. “They have a yoke that allows them to control the left and right of the aircraft, they have pedals that steer the nose of the aircraft with their feet, and they have throttles that control how fast the aircraft goes, and all the instruments they are basically able to use and manipulate in the actual aircraft.”

Although it looks like a video game to many, it’s much more challenging. The goal is to train and teach you the basics about the world of piloting, which takes a combination of skills.

“It is not like you are playing Battled Field 4 on your PS5. It has a lot of more real-world applications to it. All the maneuvers and instructions and just everything you would do in the real flight; you would do the same maneuvers in the simulator,” said Cadet Glenn Misiak.

Misiak loves it. He has always had a desire to be a pilot, so he looks at this simulator as the first step to making it happen.

“I think that this program is great. It provides a great experience and exposure,” said Misiak.

JSU points out that the simulator is also helping significantly reduce possible flight training time and the costs associated with learning to fly an aircraft.

“I can wake up on Friday morning and say I want to fly, but instead of taking $200 out of my pocket, picking the phone up, and making an appointment, I can come to the detachment and get that real-world experience on the fly,” said Misiak.

“The flight simulator program as it is implemented right now is basically to gain interest, so right now we are basically getting them interested and introduced to it, getting their time built and their confidence built,” Jones said. “We hope in the future they have a formalized training program, but right now, it’s designed to gain interest,” said Jones.

The program will be available for all cadets within the program as an additional support item for their curriculum and those who may have curiosity about the world of piloting. With this level of exposure and intentionality of programs readily available in underrepresented communities, visions of the future are becoming more colorful and promising, opening windows of opportunity and confidence for JSU students.

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