There is a period in my day where I have an hour block between classes. It’s not enough to walk home and back with reasonable time left over, but it’s too long to sit in one place and read over notes. Instead, I’ve found a fantastic way to use my time and sharpen my flight skills. The College of Aeronautics is home to the BATD Lab (Basic Attitude Training Device Laboratory), which is free resource available to all Florida Tech Students, not just flight students. The room consists of five basic simulators with the latest and greatest version of Flight Simulator X coupled with third-party software and expensive hardware add-ons. Next to the simulators is a bookshelf full of publications from all over the country, so pilots may practice their instrument flying skills at unusual airports.
I first became interested in aviation through the flight simulator series for PC years ago, and now to see it being used to train pilots during their free time is just an excellent throwback to how I fell in love with aviation. Most of the simulator training is used for instrument flight. The simulators provide excellent replications of real-world flight situations to test out the student pilot in the comfort of their own swivel chair. But, it gets better. Not only does our BATD lab have accurate flight simulation, but it also includes a live Air Traffic Control (ATC) simulator. In the adjacent room, students pursuing a concentration in air traffic control are also playing their own game, namely ‘help the pilots land their simulator’. This combination of simulator and live controller gives the student a real feeling of flying in the clouds. Many instructors use the room for training for their classes. In my Aeronautics 2 class we used the lab for training sessions to learn the nuances of instrument flying.
The lab doubles as on-campus work for those students who hold at least a pilot ground instructors license, many of whom are Certified Flight Instructors (CFI) for Private, Commercial, and Instrument (CFII) students at FIT Aviation. Normally, students pay a pretty penny for instruction, but in the lab, all advice and informal instruction is given regardless.