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The Red Bird Sends Cadets Soaring

by Stefanie Senkow
January 28, 2019

Third Class Jackson CarpenterNEW LONDON, Conn. -- It’s not just coastlines at the Coast Guard Academy; it’s skylines, too! And cadets can get a little closer to that airborne feeling with the Red Bird, the Academy’s state-of-the-art aviation simulator.

“The Red Bird, a gift from the class of 1949, is open to all cadets at the Academy. Accompanied by an instructor, cadets follow a syllabus comprised of eight lessons and a final check ride,” said Third Class Cadet (3/c) Jackson Carpenter, flight simulator coordinator.

When cadets step into the Red Bird, they become immersed in an authentic flight experience. Featuring six display monitors, the simulator allows users to change the weather conditions and seasons, as well as switch out the instrument panel to recreate the mechanics of flying either a High-Wing Cessna or a Low–Wing Piper. Not to mention the hydraulics, which rotates the Red Bird to turn when the “pilot” turns.

“The Red Bird even recreates actual airports, so users can travel to any airport around the country and get a first-hand opportunity to take-off and/or land there. It’s also personalized for the Coast Guard; for example, you’ll see Coast Guard cutters in the water,” said 3/c Carpenter.

Not only does the Red Bird simulate the ability to fly, it also replicates scenarios including entering and leaving a traffic pattern and what to do if your engine stalls, among others. Through following the syllabus, cadets truly get a handle on all of the elements that go into aviation.

Upon graduation from the Academy, many ensigns pursue flight school, paving the way for promising Coast Guard aviation careers.