Flight Simulator Ribbon Cutting at 171 ARW

Coraopolis, Pa.--   The 171st Air Refueling Wing hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, May 5, 2017, marking the grand opening of a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft simulator that was installed there.

The event consisted of remarks presented by The Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Wing Commander, Col. Gregg Perez; and Cliff Sanchez, KC-135 Aviation Training System Manager at Air Mobility Command, and Congressman Tim Murphy, representing the 18th district of Pennsylvania.

Some of the guests included State Representative Mark Mustio, 44th Legislative District, Western Allegheny; Tim Bush, KC-135 Aviation Training System Operations and Maintenance Program Manager for CAE, the company that owns and manages the simulator; civic leaders, retired military personnel, and members of the Honorary Commanders Association.  The guests toured through the newly installed Stratotanker aircraft simulator and previously installed boom simulator.  They were also able to tour a KC-135 aircraft. 

Having an aircraft simulator on base for training has many benefits according to Lt. Col. Jim M. Swanik, 171st ARW Operations Support Squadron Commander.

“Twice a year, our pilots would need to fly to Milwaukee for three days of training,” said Swanik. “Instead, they will now be able to save time and money by training here.”

The KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft simulator is a valuable training tool for pilots and helps save the Air Force money.  In addition to providing training for the 171st aircrew, other bases will send their crews to the 171st to receive training on the simulator, thus providing revenue in the local economy throughout the use of hotels, restaurants, the Pittsburgh International Airport and more.

“The cost for flying a tanker is between $10,000 - $14,000 per hour,” stated Swanik. “The potential savings for the Air Force is very beneficial.”

“It is full motion and can simulate everything we do in an airplane at a lower cost and a safer environment,” said Lt. Col. Timothy T. Waugaman, 171st ARW Operations Group Chief of Training. “It can simulate a myriad of things that can go wrong with the airplane, a few that we cannot even practice in the air. For instance, having all engines fail at once. This is something we are not able to practice in an airplane.”

The simulator was awarded to the 171st by Air Mobility Command and was relocated to Pittsburgh from Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire.