“Florida is a hub for simulation and aviation…so you need to pay attention to this.” GSF President Stu Bradin opened this Field Trip to our Corporate Partner Aero Simulation, Inc. (ASI), with his trademark ability to grab the attention of the room. After enjoying a hearty lunch of local BBQ, generously provided by our hosts at ASI, the educational portion of the Field Trip was about to begin.

Joining the GSF and ASI staffs were representatives from the USSOCOM’s J3-International division, including Liaison Officers (LNOs) from Sweden, Germany, Kuwait, The Netherlands, and Italy. Several other Corporate Partner representatives were also in attendance, to include representatives from two GSF Plank Holders: AC4S and KippsDeSanto.

Our ASI Tour Guide for the day, Mr. Russ Shepard, was informative yet succinct. He told us a bit about the history of ASI (Office #1 was a founder’s spare bedroom) and the journey that the company has taken to get to the brand new facility that we were about to tour. He also discussed the importance of simulators, especially as defense budgets across the globe are put under the microscope.

According to Mr. Shepard, “simulation is going nuts in the U.S.” As he briefly went over the many benefits of simulators, it was easy to see why! Examples included:

  • The Costs: Although there is an up-front investment required to get a simulator, once you have it the operational costs are very low—very different from the costs of operating an aircraft or other in-person simulation repeatedly.
  • Safety: As Russ stated, “You’re welcome to shut off the engine of an actual plane mid-flight to see what happens…but do you really want to?” No one will die during a simulation, yet you can still learn how to deal with complex scenarios in a controlled environment.
  • Realism: ASI is a top-of-the-line simulation organization for aviation; they’re so good that they’re winning contracts in areas where they don’t usually work, such as firefighting. They strive to make sure that the “fidelity of the simulations is so real that the pilot forgets he’s in a simulator.”
  • Security: As the opening remarks pointed out, satellites and drones are so prevalent in today’s society that we need to assume that all of our training exercises are observed. However, training conducted in the security of a simulator are less susceptible to such surveillance.

The support for the use of simulators was wide-ranging, but at one point in the tour the LNO from the Netherlands asked a question. He would be meeting with his SOF Commander next week: what was the key takeaway that he should bring back as a recommendation for his country’s SOF? Russ responded that simulators are comparatively very affordable, enable a wide variety of safe training capabilities, and are increasingly realistic.

Basically, if you continue to invest in only real-life training, you are wasting money, risking lives, and practicing poor OPSEC.

Very conveniently for the GSF, ASI also plugged I/ITSEC multiple times throughout the event! This upcoming conference in Orlando, FL, is huge for the Simulation and Training community. As Russ stated, Orlando is the “center hub for simulation for the US military,” and the conference also draws a large international audience.

This plug was convenient for us, as the GSF will be hosting its first ever I/ITSEC Happy Hour this year! We are getting everyone when they’re nice and fresh on the first day of the event: Monday, November 27th from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at The Pub in Pointe Orlando. The venue is located near the Conference Center and other bars and restaurants, so it’s an easy stop on the first day of the event! Our Happy Hour is co-sponsored by GSF Corporate Partners Pinnacle Solutions and KippsDeSantos. Click here for more information.

Thank you again to ASI for hosting us, and we look forward to our next #GSFieldTrip!