Students pilot US warplane using virtual reality software

Software put students in cockpit of Air Force aircraft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than two-dozen Air Force ROTC students from Sandalwood High School were given the chance to pilot a U.S. warplane using virtual reality software through a company called LSI.

It was all part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program that partnered with Duval County Schools.

The software the students were able to work with Thursday put them in the cockpit of an Air Force aircraft and it simulated a virtual environment for specialists on the ground who do work on the plane's engine.

Sandalwood High School students literally step into another world as soon as they put on virtual reality goggles, which immerses them in the real-life scenarios that Air Force pilots face every day.

Josh Prinzig is a Sandalwood junior who is considering the Air Force after he graduates.

"It was pretty cool being in an aircraft itself. It was a good time," Prinzig said.

Prinzig and other ROTC students got the opportunity to experience three stations set up by LSI, offering various virtual interactive environments.

"It introduces them to technologies and careers they may consider after high school such as software engineering and graphics design. As a training development company, there are a lot of different fields we utilize at LSI," said David Edwards of LSI.

"The kids are exposed to all this, so we can show them the difference and if it's something they don't want to do, it gives them the opportunity to see a variety of things that are out there," Sandalwood parent Weazie Thornton said.

The virtual trainers the students experienced Thursday simulated Air Force gunners and what's called holographic imaging, giving them some insight into what lies ahead when they enlist in the military.

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