Virtual Tour Inspiration: 360-Degree Training
A former Marine Corps C-130 loadmaster, Lee Wiegand recalled the deer-in-the-headlights look of new crew members when he ushered them into the cavernous C-130. “You walk them into that aircraft and they’re faced with hundreds of pieces of equipment they have to learn,” said the manager of Lockheed Martin’s technical training staff for the C-130 Aircrew Training System in Little Rock, Ark. “They’re absolutely lost that first time.”
Wiegand tapped an unconventional source to help him speed and simplify the training process for C-130 crews: online real estate listings. He had moved to Little Rock from North Carolina in early 2005 to assume his current training manager position. His wife initially remained behind while their son completed high school. At night they would go online with their laptops and view real estate listings that included virtual tours of the homes. “It just hit me. Why couldn’t we do this with aircraft?” said Wiegand.
Not as Simple as Real Estate
As it turned out, virtually touring the interior of a C-130 was as easy as an online walkthrough of a split-level Tudor with an attached garage. The off-the-shelf software cost $750 and was easily adaptable to substituting photos of the plane’s interior for those of a home. Wiegand’s team members could take photos of the inside of a C-130 in a day and then tag with a “hot box” the pieces of equipment the crewmembers needed to learn.
The resemblance to a video game was intentional. Young crew members quickly took to competing with other teams for bragging rights, speeding the training process and making it more enjoyable. Regardless of their specific duties, for instance, all crew members had to learn the location of emergency equipment. “In conjunction with the Air Force,” said Wiegand, “we’ve replaced three hours of training time on the aircraft with one hour of computer-based learning per crew member, times a crew of four.”