It wasn’t very often during four years of aviation training at Purdue University that my eagerness to attend class was less than enthusiastic. But it waned on the bad-weather days when the substitute for flying an airplane was the 1950s or ’60s Frasca simulator. After an airline career of referring to a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar Level D, six-axis simulator as “the box,” it’s now sobering to realize that I trained in a version from which the slang namesake originated. No argument that the clunky, coffinlike machine was aptly christened.
When my friend Wayne Harrison, a freshly ordained CFI and CFI-I, mentioned a desire to visit a company that has engineered an innovative professional simulator for around $100,000, I expressed interest. My experience with computer-based general aviation simulators extends only to Redbird Flight Simulations’ products and the varied degrees of sophistication available in the cottage industry of the hobbyist’s fake-airplane world. The visit would be to the “left coast” of Florida, giving Wayne an excuse to operate IFR with his prize possession, a Mooney Ovation.
Our arrival to Signature Aviation at Tampa International (KTPA) from Flagler Executive (KFIN) was without a bump in the road, literally and figuratively. Wayne had never landed at the airport, but I had experienced it on numerous occasions from a slightly higher and faster vantage point, notwithstanding parking on the other side of the field with a jet bridge included.
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