For the past couple of years, Edwards Aero Club student pilots have utilized Cessna 172s to turn their dreams of flying into reality in order to obtain their Federal Aviation Administration pilot’s license.
With the recent acquisition of the club’s second glass panel aircraft, students will now have the choice to transition from training in aircraft with conventional “steam-gauges” to aircraft equipped with more modern multi-function displays.
“We were very fortunate to be able to purchase a 2012 Cessna 172 SP, which is known for having a glass panel Garmin G-1000 series, and carry a similar aircraft that we purchased in 2010,” said Connie Farmer, 95th Force Support Squadron Edwards Aero Club manager. “To be able to offer flight training in a glass panel aircraft is a tremendous benefit because it’s always better to have two identical aircraft in case one is down. This way the student can continue their training without having any interruptions.”
Aside from allowing students the opportunity to train in two similar aircraft, Silke Eyles, Edwards Aero Club flight instructor, said the biggest benefit would be the modern avionics integrated into two large, 10.4-inch high-resolution active-matrix LCDs within the cockpit.
“Being able to train students in a technically advanced aircraft is a great opportunity for the student and myself,” said Eyles. “This addition really enhances safety especially on cross country flights.”
According to Farmer, part of the safety features the aircraft has is that students will have the ability to access real-time flight-critical data, like traffic information, heading data, digital altitude, topographic data and relative terrain mapping via the use of a digital screen.
“This definitely makes flying less effortless. It allows students to have a decreased workload and additional safety margins,” Eyles said. “It also gives people the opportunity to transition into commercial aviation once they’re retired from the Air Force.”
For club members and students like Master Sgt. Dwayne Bolles, 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Support Section chief, he said the addition was something he could use once he completed his initial training.
“Seeing how we share airspace with F-16s, F-15s and all kinds of airplanes you wouldn’t normally see at any other airport, the added features within this new aircraft bring a new level of safety and confidence to any student pilot-in-training,” said Bolles.
Besides the acquisition of the new aircraft to train new pilots, Farmer said the club’s main intent with the recent purchase was to ensure that the aero club could continue supporting the multiple programs it is involved with at Edwards.
“Given the fact that we offer such a well-maintained fleet, we have about 185 active members that depend on the aircraft for primary training, instrument training, commercial training and so pilots can become certified flight instructors,” said Farmer.
One of those dependent on the club’s fleet is Master Sgt. Charles Layne, 461st Flight Test Squadron F-35 Aircraft Section chief, who happened to perform his first solo flight as student pilot-in-training March 29.
“I initially saw a flyer at the base gym and decided it was something I really wanted to do,” said Layne. “Without the help of the full time and part time flight instructors from the moment I walked out here, I would not have been able to realize one of my lifelong dreams.”
Additionally, Farmer added that the club not only offers orientation flights for those who may be reluctant to sign up for the training, but performs special request flights for the base.
“We support Northrop so their pilots can maintain their currencies and we have two airmanship programs in order to introduce engineers to aviation to include Search and Rescue,” said Farmer. “The fact that we’re located on Edwards, where a lot of the aviation history was made; we always welcome anyone who has access to the base to find out more about aviation.”
The Edwards Aero Club is located on South Base near the Fire Station. For more information, call (661) 275-2376 or visit www.edwardsaeroclub.org.