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Politics & Government

Flight Simulator to Keep Air National Guard Pilots Current and Bring Outside Aircrew to Area


The Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 171st Refueling Wing will now be home to a KC-135 flight simulator.

That is the type of craft flown by pilots at the Moon Township facility. Previously, crew members would have to travel to the Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire to use a flight simulator, now they can stay in Pittsburgh and others will likely come into the region as well.

“Other units will use us as that simulator training base, which they’ll have to get hotels and eat and everything else, so it would have an economic impact in the area,” said Maj. Jason Figley, 171st Refueling Wing Executive Officer.

The acquisition of the simulator was prompted by Pease switching to a different aircraft. Figley said having the simulator will help keep 77 pilots and 33 boom operators current, allowing them to practice what can be done in the air.

“This will allow us to practice it more and a little bit more realistic, you know we can’t actually shut an engine off in air legally unless it’s an emergency. In a simulator we can, so it’s better training for us,” said Figley. “It is a full-blown cockpit that has every button and switch that the airplane does, and we can be trained on how to respond to it appropriately.”

The simulator is coming to the 171st from the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. The 171st ARW is one of three highly-specialized wings in Pennsylvania and the only “supertanker” wing in the entire Air National Guard, with 16 assigned aircraft.