Pilots flying out of Raleigh Exec now have a new training option after a flight simulator was installed in the terminal by Odyssey Aero Club, a nonprofit flying club based at the general aviation airport.
The simulator, a Redbird TD2 with G1000 and 6-pack panels, is designed for instrument-rated pilots — those who have gone through additional, intensive training to fly solely using instruments in the cockpit that provide continuous data about the aircraft’s flight. While more than half of all pilots have earned the rating, only a small percentage maintain it over time.
The Redbird TD2 is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Basic Aviation Training Device. It allows pilots to enhance flight safety by practicing in different kinds of weather and becoming familiar with approaches at airports they haven’t yet visited. Instrument-rated pilots and pilots training for their instrument rating can use the simulator to complete some FAA requirements to earn and maintain their ratings.
Jan Squillace, general manager and flight instructor for Odyssey Aero Club, says the simulator offers many advantages for pilots, including the chance to acquire experience less expensively than actually flying. But, in the end, it’s all about safety.
“For any pilot wondering what really bad weather can look like, try it on a simulator,” she said. “When things get too rough, you can press pause and consider your choices, an opportunity you may not get in an actual airplane in bad weather. Flying a simulator does not make you a capable pilot, but a capable pilot can improve their level of safety by using the simulator.”
Squillace said there are a handful larger simulators in the area, equipment classified as Advanced Aviation Training Devices, but those are more expensive to buy and maintain. This one was affordable for Odyssey Aero Club and is currently available to any member, with a checkout with an Odyssey instructor, at $40 per hour for Social/Simulator members and $30 per hour for Full Flying members.
The simulator also further expands the growing list services available at Raleigh Exec since its new terminal opened less than two years ago. “The newest addition of a Redbird simulator will be an additional boost for the club to attract more members and offer a capability for flight simulation inside the classroom at a lower cost or when the weather is not conducive for actual flying,” said Airport Director Bob Heuts. “The simulator is a welcome addition to all of the aviation activities offered at Raleigh Exec.”
Since being formed in 2018, Odyssey Aero Club has enjoyed significant membership growth. The nonprofit offers aircraft rentals, flight instruction and monthly safety seminars to enhance piloting skills, as well as a vibrant social atmosphere for pilots to share their passion for aviation.