The United States Marine Corps brought several flight simulators to the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the Grand Forks International Airport Friday, April 21. The simulators were brought to one of the aircraft hangars, being used as floor space for the Student Aviation Management Association’s (SAMA) 36th Annual Conference and Career Fair.
The simulators featured were of the F/A-18 Hornet jet fighter, the AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter and one of the two Marine F-35 Joint Strike Fighter flight simulators in the United States. The F-35 simulator was fully enclosed, as opposed to the other simulators, and was the only one certified by the Federal Aviation Administration for training purposes. Each of the F-35 simulators cost $100,000 each.
“Our mission here is to promote our aviation units,” Sergeant Webster explained, one of the Marines present. A public affairs specialist, she will have been in the Marines for four years come August. North Dakota is part of the 9th District of the Marine Corps, which encompasses 13 states in the Midwest, headquartered in Great Lakes, Ill.
Each simulator was programmed for a simple task, where the user would take off, either from an airfield or in the Cobra helicopter, the top of a building and land somewhere else. All of the simulators were on movable platforms, able to simulate roll, pitch and yaw: the three types of movement controls on aircraft. The F-35 simulator had the ability to fire the weapons, although in the morning, this hadn’t been set up.
According to Captain Christopher Cory, Officer Selection Officer, they had a two-year contract currently with the simulators, and this is the 2nd or 3rd event they’ve been featured at.
“Hopefully we can bring these out once a year (in the future),” Cory said.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is the newest aircraft in the United States military fleet. There are three variants of the jet: “A,” which the Air Force operates; “C,” which is carrier based for the U.S. Navy; and “B,” which features a large lift fan in the fuselage, and a swivel nozzle and thrust vectors for the engine for Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VOTL) capabilities.
The Marine Corps has ordered 340 Lightning IIs, intending to use them to replace the current Harrier Jump Jet VTOL fighter, which has been in service since 1985, as well as eventually the F/A-18 fighter.
The last jet fighter to be used by all three forces of the U.S. military was the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, used during the Vietnam War.
This year’s SAMA conference was sponsored by Republic Airline, and ran Thursday, April 20 to Friday, April 21. SAMA has been with the John D. Odegard School since 1981, and the current president is Joshua Hovey-Horny.
Cory is based in Fargo, and is responsible for recruits in North Dakota, Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin. However, he does like to spend time at UND.
“UND has produced many impressive military officers, pilots and otherwise,” Cory said. For additional information about the Marine programs available to students, Cory can be reached at [email protected], or by phone at 701-293-4063.
Connor Johnson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]