Jeff Van West heads Redbird Media to change how pilots and instructors think about simulation
There’s wide agreement that flight simulation is crucial to making flight training more affordable. But truly integrating simulation into flight training too often falls short in the real world. “The core issue is that most pilots and instructors see simulation as an adjunct to flight training and proficiency,” says Jeff Van West, Director of the new organization Redbird Media. “We need to shift people’s concept of simulation such that it becomes a central part of a pilot lifestyle. To reap the benefits, using simulation must become a habit.”
Redbird Media will partner with Redbird Flight Simulations, and other groups, to work this issue for pilots and whole flight schools alike. Programs for individual pilots will range from public events, such as virtual fly-ins and spot-landing contests, to engaging monthly proficiency programs tailored to individual needs. “Get pilots in the habit of coming to the airport for an exciting monthly sim session and they’re more likely to stay in the habit of real-world flying because they’re more comfortable, more proficient and simply at the airport more often,” says Van West.
Roger Sharp, Chief Pilot for Redbird’s Part 141 flight school, the Skyport, says, “Instructor competence on simulator-based training is critical. Unless they are 100 percent bought in, it falls apart.” Redbird Media is working with the Skyport on instructor training for simulation use from complete pilot ratings down to single-hour proficiency sessions. “We’re making teaching guides containing all the details an instructor needs for a complete training experience,” says Van West. “But there will be room in all curriculae to apply their skills as educators more and more as they gain experience with this way of thinking. It’s not only about better instruction; simulation done well is also cheaper for the student while simultaneously more profitable for the school.” Van West will be speaking on this topic at Redbird’s Migration Flight Training Conference, October 22-24, 2012 in San Marcos, TX.
Van West was the editor of IFR magazine, known for its nitty-gritty, real-world approach to flying, and the managing editor of The Aviation Consumer, a pilot’s equivalent of ConsumerReports. He was also co-author of Flight Simulator X for Real-World Pilots, a top-selling book on home simulator use. In addition to the proficiency and training programs, Redbird Media will assist Redbird with publications and public relations.