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On-the-Ground Flight Training Feels Like the Real Thing

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FORT BRAGG — Despite last week's crash of a Black Hawkhelicopter at Fort Bragg, the Army still has confidence in its Black Hawkunits.

The chopper's safety record has improved in recent years, and pilotsfrequently train for emergencies.

In order to be effective in wartime,military pilots learn to fly in all sorts of situations they mightencounter. They learn to fly at tree top level, in bad weather, andat night, so they train and train some more, but not all of it can bedone in the air.

It's sounds and looks just like the cockpit of an armyBlack Hawk helicopter, but it's really a simulator -- a high-techone that comes with a $30 million price tag.

Instructor Mike Henderson says the simulators are veryeffective and accurate in duplicating all sorts of conditions.

The simulator at Fort Bragg does far more than teach soldiers basicflying skills. Henderson says most flying conditions can be simulatedthere.

Black Hawk pilots must put in 20 hours per year on the simulator.Some get up to 60 hours, and Henderson says that's time well spent on apiece of equipment that can help save lives.

Even during peace time the margin for error can be small because crews train just as they would fight, but that doesn't mean they throwcaution to the wind.

Larry Newsom of the 18th Aviation Brigade says they have to know whatthey're doing at all times.

There are risks involved. That's the nature of preparing for war. Armyleaders say they've tried to minimize those risks by placing a priority onsafety.

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