Among the workhorses of the air campaign in Iraq are the fighter jets on all sorts of missions. Getting inside the cockpit and flying one is an opportunity many of us can only dream about. But now students in the Low Country will have the opportunity, with a new flight simulator.
Bluffton Elementary student Courtney Walker was one of the first in the area to fly this new F-A 18 flight simulator at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, a simulator that takes video game technology to a whole new level.
"It's like you're actually in the plane," she said.
The simulator is the latest addition to the air station's STARBASE program, a five-day program teaching fourth and fifth graders math, science, technology, and physics through a hands-on approach.
"We find that if a child's able to touch, feel, and see it up close, it sticks with them a lot better than just looking at it in a book and reading it," said program executive director Wendell Roberson.
Although this cockpit has been modified for kids, it still has the same capabilities at a real F-A 18. With a few moves, any pilot can turn this $24,000 plane upside down, drop bombs, shoot missiles, and even eject. Although it doesn't cost a fraction of what a real F-A 18 costs, it can still give experienced pilots like the Air Station's commanding officer, Col. Harmon Stockwell, a real thrill.
"It's pretty realistic," he said. "Similar to what you'd see in an F-A 18."
But when you crash this plane, you still have a future.
All fourth graders in Beaufort and surrounding counties will have the opportunity to take this simulator for a ride through the STARBASE program. The program is a part of the Department of Defense, and grant money paid for the simulator.