“Peach State STARBASE is a federal Dept. of Defense youth program, locally sponsored and supported by the Georgia National Guard, with a mandate to increase the interest in and abilities at STEM topics, centering on aerospace engineering, in an at-risk, 5th-8th grade student population attending public Title I schools. The national STARBASE Program has existed for about 30 years, Peach State is now 20 years old, starting its first academy class in April, 2002. Since the beginning, we have used X-Plane in our 42-station Flight Simulation Lab, starting with version 6.70, as an activity to bring together our classroom and lab lessons in basic aerodynamics and aeronautics. These students start off by using the stock Cessna 172SP to take off and practice controlled flight, they progress to doing the same with a payware Lockheed C-130H; Lockheed-Martin is one of our major corporate sponsors, and we are physically located across the runway at KMGE from their C-130 assembly line. As time permits we set up X-Plane to let them fly the (old) stock Lockheed F-22 Raptor, and conduct a few other adjunctive lessons in aerial navigation, flying in and out of unfamiliar airports, and attempting the land the Space Shuttle. To date, over 14,500 students have participated in this art of our programming, all with hand-on experience with X-Plane, and this has proven to be one of the most popular parts of this course and a serious draw for other schools applying to join in our community.
While a few other STARBASE locations have conducted flight simulation activities, most use other software products, until they attend one of the STARBASE training sessions we offer, and experience the power, flexibility, and incredible flight modeling X-Plane offers. During these sessions, we dive into some of the deeper aspects of flight simulation, including radio aids to navigation, concepts of load & balance, and in a new set of lessons we are currently developing, conducting experiments in airfoil design and testing, along with our 3D CAD, 3D printing, and wind-tunnel labs. Our partners in the 1-111th Aviation Brigade have used our flight simulation lab and X-Plane loaded with a payware UH-60 Blackhawk, to let their new pilots have some ground school familiarization with the routes they will be flying , while supporting the 5th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Merrill, GA; these pilots have frequently remarked about how accurate the stock terrain mesh is in X-Plane, and how their simulated flights reflected what they experienced in their subsequent real-world missions.
Peach State STARBASE has been recognized as a national leader in this mil-ed community, in part for its advanced use of flight simulation that effectively impacts our targeted student population, and I fully credit Laminar Research for developing this excellent product that has in no small way helped us achieve this reputation, and impacted the lives of these very at-risk students in such a radically positive way.
I am most looking forward to the continued improvement in graphic realism in X-Plane 12, which gives a more immersive experience to our students. I am also very much looking forward to seeing what the third party developers will be able to create, given the new features sets. “