Simulator

GCV members have built an advanced gliding simulator using a retired IS28 fuselage and wide screen displays. It is currently on-line for hire at a nominal rate and we’re rapidly building up experience and developing training models utilising it. Enquiries to Graham Garlick.

Background

1.  A simulator displays the virtual world, it has to offer authenticity [of being true in substance] but this does not mean that it has to exactly mirror the real world; however it must offer fidelity [to conform to truth or fact] to allow an effective transfer of skills in order to make flying in the real world more pleasurable, efficient, and safer.

2. A simulator for the Gliding Club of Victoria was first mooted in an address to members by the then president Vivian Drew in 2006. This remark was prompted by information received from Lasham. In 2010 Graham Garlick visited the Yorkshire Gliding Club and observed CFI Andy Parrish upgrading an instructor. The demonstration of the “effect of controls” was realistic and this was followed by a flight which convinced Graham that the introduction of a simulator as part of Gliding Club of Victoria [operations] had merit. This was further supported on his return to Australia when he took up an appointment as a simulator instructor on a newly installed fixed based simulator  which had the same architecture as that of the Yorkshire simulator, albeit decidedly more expensive and sophisticated. A meeting was then held at the Oxford Aviation Academy Moorabbin to the launch the project. A flight through the Swiss Alps stimulated interest and cemented support. The success of the Lasham and Yorkshire simulators proved that the project was feasible if supported by the skill base within the membership. A component list with costs and encouragement by David Latimer of the Yorkshire Gliding gave further confidence that the project would be successful.

3. The GCV simulator design criteria demanded a 2 placed generic trainer preferably flapped, with airbrakes, undercarriage, and a 180 degree visual display. Suitable wrecks were difficult to obtain as many cockpits are damaged during accidents, the Blanik except for the “Llewllyn” mod aircraft remained grounded so there was hope. Plastic [GRP] was impossible to obtain however during a visit to Tocumwal David Riley pulled out a dusty wrecked IS28 formerly operated by the Alice Springs Gliding Club. This was acquired and David salvaged the wreck trimming the excess fuselage and searching parts before it was transported to Melbourne. The project group then divided into teams, one re-built the cockpit, the screen and the mounting frame.  Another group purchased the Apple – Matrox head and – Silent Wings software. Another group purchased the USB controller, built the control system and purchased the warping software for the cylindrical screen.  Others helped with fundraising.

4. Steve Hobby and Phil Henderson transformed the wreck to a simulator by stripping and re-skinning parts of the fuselage, then filling and painting and naming it GS1. Alby James and Deniz Ture toyed with potentiometers and Alby and the team tweaked the controls. Testing was started with a laptop, ‘Silent Wings” Software and one overhead projector. At 5 months into the project excitement began to build. The next task was to transport this sizeable unit to Benalla ,Mark Goodley  delivered the shell with care to the clubhouse and operations began  on the ground floor to gain member interest. This was essential as an appeal had to be made to members for donations as up to this point the project had only been funded by some of the project members.

The funding was launched by a generous donation of $1000 by one member and in all 23 members donated. The committee offered to back any donations on a 1to1 basis up to $2400, with fund raising dinner’s lead by Gerry Hogan the $2400 was passed and the kitty doubled to over $4800.  At a previous airline fly-in $1200 was realised and earmarked for the kitchen, this was raided so the total went to $6000 the project was now risk fee with a clear objective to complete the build and get a cash flow.

5. Housing of the simulator presented a problem, John Switala and Phil Henderson measured the old computer room, little used after a work station was built on the ground floor. Although tight, the room offered security and if a wall was removed the simulator could be accommodated. A wall was quickly removed and the simulator lifted and maneuvered up the stairway. The installation was finished with John Switala painting and Peter Gray completing carpets and joinery.

6. The next stage was the installation of the three projectors, Metrox box, and hard -drive, this coincided with the hottest weekends of the summer. Richard Gynes our graphic guru who had selected the projectors and computer and along with Phil Henderson sweated in sauna like conditions during the installation. Phil also installed a 180 degree wrap-around seamless screen; a 180 degree screen was selected to teach scanning and to ensure that students demonstrated an effective lookout during training. Alby James continued to tweak the controls and stroke the “Silent Wings” software.

The GCV design demanded springs to effect, feel rather than the bungee system, employed by Yorkshire, this allows adjustments be easily made by changing spring tension and altering the software and potentiometer parameters.

The software selected was “Silent Wings “on receiving advice from Yorkshire  that only “Silent Wings” would work with three projectors and one computer. The “Condor” system was also trialed, this is popular product within the gliding club community but for use as a simulator our experience indicted that “Silent Wings” is a better platform.

John Wharrington and Scott Penrose had previously worked on scenery for NE Victoria with the “Condor program”, John now set to improve the format during its adaptation to “Silent Wings”.

One of the most demanding issues was screen distortion caused by trying to display a seamless image through 3 flat screen projectors. Discussion of the “nerds” offered differing views but with open minds and research indications were that a seamless image could be achieved with warping software some of which was decidedly expensive, this was resolved by John Warrington John using his own software and Alby a low cost proprietary package. By this time the demands on processing were becoming too great owing to the extensive terrain addition of clouds, sailplanes and rapid maneuvers. The original computer was replaced with some misgivings amongst the team but the frame rates increased as a consequence the display has improved.

The installation is now being further enhanced by Garry Albet beefing up the screen and installing a work station. The work station has been trialed but has been returned to Melbourne for modification.

7. To get to this point we started with an Apple computer with bootcamp to make it a dual boot system this was later replaced with a Windows PC with a “VERY “fast video card an I7 x 6 processor and an ATI HD Radeon 7850 2 Gig video card. The simulator now has a Matrox triple head video splitter for the cylindrical screen. A 3.6m diameter cylindrical screen.NTHUSIM warping software for the display. Three short throw “Benq” flat screen projectors. A Windows 7 operating system and a “Silent Wings” simulation program. Local environment scenery.Leo Bodnar’ USB joystick controller. 10k linear potentiometers for the analogue inputs. Micro-switches for digital control inputs.Linkages and push-rods for the various controls. an I7 x 6 processor and an ATI HD Radeon 7850 2 Gig video card.

8 .The simulator is  now being used to research the use of simulation in teaching cross-country flying by Tim Shirley, and Peter Gray has introduced the concept of simulation to the VSA CFI’s and senior instructors.

420 Sqdn Benalla Air Training Corps cadets have flown the simulator with enthusiasm. Should GCV again decide to market gliding to the air training corps the air league and schools GCV have a decide adavantage.

Last summer the seasonal instructors used the simulator effectively for remedial training and to maintain the continuity of training courses during inclement weather.

The simulator is raising  international interest within the gliding community in February Carlos Stipidic of CPV-Chile visited Benalla and flew the simulator on return he raised the topic with his club and now   the manager of CPV-CHILE www.planeadores.cl Arturo Diez is visting the  Lasham and Yorkshire Clubs to look at other simulators.

Darcy Hogan recently used it for instructor training, with Rob Mc Kenzie.  If this was deemed to be successful it enhances the GCV training facility for VSA instructor courses.

Eddie Maddern of Sportavia is proposing to bring his instructors to Benalla  for annual refresher training in late July. Eddie was introduced to the simulator during the meeting of VAS CFI’s and L3’s

Kingaroy have a connection with Griffiths University aviation department. Many years ago RMIT aeronautical students spent a week at Benalla. Swinburn and RMIT both run aviation courses initially.

The simulator offers a link between computer science, robotics and aviation.

9. The direct cost of the simulator was$10,000. The sound system was donated by Lew Tankard, Steve Hobby raised funds for the fuselarge by selling furniture and Vivienne and Garry Albet the work station.

The running costs are at present supported by a modest fee of $10 per hour or part thereof, however the viability depends on usage and the honesty of the members. If a utilization of 400 hours per annum is flown it will give a modest cash flow to continue the development and cover running costs.

The simulator is a GCV asset, the cost was set low to be attractive and ensure high utilization. There has been some comment on pricing. Members have been charged $10.00 per hour or part thereof. One hour in the simulator is demanding and at $10 per hour this is good value. I suggested $20.00 per hour for VSA  sponsored and other operators. Darcy Hogan believed this to be unfair and that all GCV members should be at the same rate and this raises a valid point. Darcy suggest $20.00 a fair figure.

Pricing is for the Treasurer and committee to decide, but keep in mind that it must be attractive to get high utiisation.

10. The execution of the simulator project has resulted in a professional presentation. The next phases of development will be in improving the quality of the software in particular the on ground graphics of the Benalla airfield. This is a specialized area.

11. The  project is not yet finished. Air-conditioning still has to be installed before summer and the president is keen that the simulator be screened or boxed in. Towards air-conditioning GCV have been grant $500.00

12. Committee should consider retaining the fuselage of the IS28b CQD at the 35 year point for further simulator development.

13. Many members have given their support in time and money to the project; no request for help was ever refused, and advice was given freely.

14. Louise O’Grady and John Gwyther are working to incorporate the simulator into the GC V website and Graham Garlick will write an article for the gliding press. We have another good story to tell!

14.Throughout the history of the Gliding Club of Victoria  members built aircraft during the 30s depression, built hangers, developed aero-towing, researched meteorology, ran a successful World gliding championships and built the aero-park. It is by following this tradition that the simulator was built.