Saturday, August 25, 2007

MATSS meets 'digital sky' landmarks

Aug. 24, 2007; Submitted on: 08/24/2007 11:24:28 AM ; Story ID#: 2007824112428

By Lance Cpl. Cecilia N. Rooks, MCAS New River

Jim Kessler, a Marine Aviation Training Systems Squadron MV-22 Osprey instructor and retired Marine Corps major, demonstrates how to determine a destination while flying in a MV-22 Osprey full-motion simulator before unit instructors completed their 20,000 flight-training hours at MATSS Aug. 7.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. (Aug. 24, 2007) -- A group of instructors celebrated the completion of 20,000 flight-training hours and 10,000 missions in the Marine Aviation Training Systems Squadron MV-22 "Osprey" simulators Aug. 7.

The milestone flight-training hours and training missions were celebrated in a small ceremony signifying the unit's dedicated effort in ensuring the Marine Corps and "Osprey" program field the best trained and safest pilots available, said Maj. Walter D. Reece, the MATSS officer-in-charge.

Thirty years ago, pilots did not have simulators to help them learn how to fly the aircraft, explained Mark Thoman, a MATSS MV-22 instructor. He added that before simulators, Marines would come across problematic scenarios during training and would not know what to do.

"We have the simulators; if something goes wrong with the aircraft, (the pilots) have seen it and they will know how to react," said Kurt Miller, a MATSS MV-22 instructor.

"If a student makes a mistake, we can reset (the scenario) and do it over and over again until the Marine gets it right," explained Thoman.

Thoman, who has been a MV-22 instructor since MATSS' first simulator training class, explained that their first class was held in May of 1999 and that each mission consists of an hour brief, two hours of simulated flight time and half-hour debrief.

These instructors have 40,000 hours of actual flight time between them, which leaves no question as to why these mentors love to train young pilots, explained Jim Kessler, a MATSS MV-22 instructor.

Being able to put this flight suit on everyday and train young aviators in the ways of the aircraft is a blessing, said Miller, who is a retired Marine CH-46 pilot.

"It gives great pleasure to the civilians and us retired guys to be able to teach these Marines how to fly in a safe environment," added Thoman. "My biggest thrill is taking a young fellow who is having trouble with a maneuver and climbing into the simulator and taking him through it until he is doing it perfectly. That makes me grin," he added.

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