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Global News Flash... News and Announcements
PRESS RELEASE - Disorientation Training April 7, 2011 Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:44 pm
New Spatial Disorientation Training Device now Available in the Northeast

Spatial disorientation has always been the leading causal factor in weather related accidents, and is the most lethal precursor of general aviation accidents. Despite these alarming statistics, spatial disorientation training opportunities for pilots are few and far in between. This is certainly not a reflection of any lack of interest in the training, but largely due to the fact that the equipment needed to facilitate the training isn’t readily available. That is all about to change for pilots in the Northeast and beyond.

Michael Lessard of Sullivan, Maine is a CFII, MEI and a FAASTeam Lead Representative. He has delivered spatial disorientation training to hundreds of pilots over the years, using a “vertigo chair” that belongs to the local FSDO.

“The chair served its purpose for many years, and so many pilots have benefited from it. But it just became too old and worn out. It’s time for something new.”

In April of 2010, Michael received a grant from the Wolf Aviation Fund to construct a new vertigo chair. Over the past year, he has finalized the design of the chair, and has been working to complete the project for the spring of 2011. The project is on track, and will make its debut appearance at New England Aviation Safety Expo in Nashua, New Hampshire on 14 May 2011.

“It’s appropriate that the chair makes its “maiden flight” at the Expo. After all, that is the FAASTeams event. It is purely about aviation safety, and this will help to let the aviation community know that this type of training is back in action.”

Spatial disorientation training is one of the most important types of training that pilots can participate in. Spatial disorientation is defined as a loss of positional or situational awareness with regards to the flight attitude of the aircraft in relationship to the horizon. This type of accident scenario is significant as it occurs in approximately 76% of single engine weather related accidents involving both instrument rated and non-instrument rated pilots, and represents a 90% fatality rate in those occurrences. Historically, there have been few resources and opportunities for pilots to participate in recurrent spatial disorientation training. There are only a handful of vertigo chairs in the country. Their general design is heavy, bulky, and pretty much stationary. This precludes them from being used in the field where they are really needed. Pilots usually have to travel long distances to locations where training can take place, if and when the training is available.


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Michael has designed his vertigo chair to change that for the better. The new chair is of a lightweight, modular design. It is simply disassembled and packed into a flight case for easy and convenient transportation to remote venues.

“We can now bring spatial disorientation training to the pilots, and can respond to training requests much easier than in the past.”

The vertigo chair is highly proven and effective to expose the subject to the physical effects of spatial disorientation, as they would be encountered by a pilot in flight. The device effectively causes the vestibular system to respond to changes in direction and acceleration, and produces a substantially accurate physical condition in the subject to demonstrate in real time, the debilitating effects of spatial disorientation in flight. Expected benefits of the project are to provide opportunities for pilots and students to experience these effects in a safe and controlled environment. There is a substantial value in this experience, as it is the only method to demonstrate the magnitude of debilitation that occurs to the pilot. It effectively proves that no one is exempt from spatial disorientation, and that encounters must be avoided through continual training and proper flying techniques.

The training program is made up of three segments. In the first part, the attendees will learn about the physiological aspects of vestibular disorientation. The second segment includes a 3D recreation of a high profile spatial disorientation crash. In the final part of the seminar, volunteers from the audience are harnessed safely into the vertigo chair, and are exposed to several situations that cause spatial disorientation. Whether you are riding in the chair, or observing from the audience, the reaction of the pilot is incredibly compelling.

The spatial disorientation training experience will be made available to aviation training programs and schools, FAASTeam, and the aviation community as well as public schools, and medical/scientific communities.

Michael didn’t do all of this on his own. There were several organizations who partnered with him to make this project possible. The Wolf Aviation Fund supported a large portion of the project cost, as did WINGsReality. Bangor International Airport generously provided the materials, labor and their maintenance shop to fabricate the base section of the chair. CarQuest of Bangor, ME donated the bearing assembly. On behalf of the aviation community, Michael would like to thank all who helped to bring this training opportunity back to the Northeast! Read full articleRead full article
Global News Flash... News and Announcements
Vertigo Chair Project April 6, 2011 Update Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:34 pm
WINGsReality LLC, Co-Founder Michael A. Lessard,
The Vertigo Chair Project
April 2011 Update

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