At Fort Rucker in Alabama there’s a line out the door of an expansive, ugly hangar filled with bathroom-sized fiberglass boxes. The boxes don’t look like much from the outside, but inside soldiers find exact, working replicas of the planes, helicopters and tanks they’ll one day be piloting – sometimes with theirs and other’s lives in their hands. And they’ll all be counting on this training they got in the fiberglass box simulators.
“[Years ago] there was just the ever present noise of helicopters around you, there’s helicopters all over the place flying around, real helicopters,” said Gene McCulley, owner and CEO of StackFrame, a Sanford-based flight simulation firm. “Now when you go to Fort Rucker, there’s no helicopters. Why? Because they’re all in the Middle East.”