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First virtual reality training arrives at Keesler AFB

Airmen from the 334th Training Squadron try out the new virtual reality technology of the 334th TRS at Cody Hall, on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, June 28, 2019. The 334th TRS incorporated a VR classroom to teach Airfield Maintenance more efficiently with visual simulation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

Airmen from the 334th Training Squadron try out the new virtual reality technology of the 334th TRS at Cody Hall, on Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., June 28, 2019. The 334th TRS incorporated a VR classroom to teach airfield maintenance more efficiently with visual simulation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) --

The 334th Training Squadron incorporated the first virtual reality training for airfield management students in the Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base, June 28, so they can get more of a “hands-on” learning experience.

Chief Master Sgt. Paul Portugal, Airfield Management career field manager, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virgina, relates this new technology to the mission of Air Education and Training Command.

“Innovation and the continuum of learning has always been a priority of AETC to make our Airmen more effective and efficient,” Portugal said.

Master Sgt. Joshua Stillwagon, 334th TRS instructor, believes this new technology can teach the Airmen more efficiently than the previous, lecture-based class because of the hands-on experience.

“This system gives instructors the capability to not just tell Airmen, but instantly show them a concept,” Stillwagon said.

The simulation includes the setting of an airfield and allows students to practice their job as if they were operational.

“The VR technology gives our students a visual representation of airfield hazards that can be unsafe,” Portugal said. “They don’t need to imagine it, they can visualize cranes, trees or other things that can affect flight safety.”

Portugal believes this training will not only help the future of airfield management training, but improve the overall training of Airmen.

“The technological jump that we are making in how we create a more efficient and effective Airmen is the biggest part of this,” Portugal said.

Col. Leo Lawson Jr., previous 81st Training Group commander, was impressed with the quality of the new VR experience.

“The VR training simulations blew me away,” Lawson said. “Not only was it able to deliver the training our Airmen need to understand the concept of the job, but it did so with great quality.”

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