IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - In the midst of Air Idaho Rescue's busiest season, its pilots are training without even getting off the ground.
Once a year for a couple of weeks, Air Idaho Rescue's parent company, Air Methods, brings a simulator that they say gives pilots advantages the real thing may not. The simulator uses two power supplies, two computers and two projectors. A simulation of our region is projected to a mirror, and onto the screen in front of the cockpit.
Blake Larson, a lead pilot for Air Idaho Rescue, says the simulator takes some getting used to, considering it is immobile.
"You don't feel what's going on," said Larson.
The simulator's operator, Dan Miller, said that perceived negative is actually beneficial.
"Actually this is more challenging. They have to use the one sense of sight to respond and deal with the emergency," said Miller.
Another advantage is the ability to act as Mother Nature.
"They can actually simulate the weather, and give you more of the urgency to follow those directions," said Larson.
Important, considering weather can change rapidly in our mountainous terrain.
"One of the most common accidents with helicopters is flying into terrain," said Larson.
Accidents, however, are avoided altogether when using a simulator.
"If they make a mistake in the device, it's a matter of pushing a button," said Miller. "Nobody gets hurt and no damage is done to the aircraft."