Those who have been training in Southport with the 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (3CFFTS) are excited to move forward, which will hopefully bring more effective training.
Lieutenant Colonel and commanding officer of 3CFFTS Jason Virtue says they had a tough time getting trainees through the door before the pandemic. When COVID-19 struck, training was reduced dramatically. Now, with the resurgence of airlines combined with these other factors, there's a huge demand for pilots.
Virtue notes Southport has a large part to play in bringing in new pilots.
"We graduate, with wings, about 75% of them here in Southport," says Virtue. "So, for reconstituting the Air Force pilots, we have a very, very important mission to make sure our Air Force continues to operate in the years to come."
He adds pilots are sent to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for the middle portion of the training. Not enough pilots are being sent back to Southport, however, which has led to some courses here being unable to start.
He explains it's not all bad news though, as 3CFFTS is branching out and investing in some new technology.
"If we're going to reconstitute our forces, it requires us to think differently and to really lever new technology and one of the key technologies right now it is virtual reality," explains Virtue. "What used to cost millions of dollars for a simulator? That experience can now be reproduced on a very low-end off-the-shelf system. One thing we're immediately implementing at our school is every student is going to have a virtual reality-capable laptop with VR goggles. Right now we're taking virtual reality 3D 360 (degree) videos of all the sequences we fly. So, a student will be able to see in 3D how to conduct a manoeuver before they even go out to do it, but it also allows them to simulate a mission beforehand."
Virtue believes that this type of training is going to be a very important study tool for the school in Southport to evolve.