The Shawnee Regional Airport Advisory Board has agreed to enter into a lease agreement with Red Cloud Aviation (RCA) to add a flight simulator to its offerings at the airport. RCA already offers flight instruction services using active aircraft.

The Shawnee Regional Airport Advisory Board has agreed to enter into a lease agreement with Red Cloud Aviation (RCA) to add a flight simulator to its offerings at the airport. RCA already offers flight instruction services using active aircraft.

FBO Manager and Chief Pilot Scott D. Lee, of RCA, an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant)-licensed maintenance and flight instruction business, requested approval from the board to expand his services to include using a flight simulator and is seeking to lease 116 square feet of space in the terminal to accommodate the equipment.

The simulator now occupies the terminal, as Lee and Wilson recently agreed on a test run, of sorts, to help Lee determine if a financial investment in the equipment was suitable.

“Foot traffic indicates to me it is a very popular thing,” Wilson said.

Lee explained to the board what the equipment is and what it can do.

“It's a fully-enclosed training device for private-pilot instruments,” he said. “You can put multiple aircraft styles and types in the system.”

The system had made foot traffic quite heavy over the past couple weeks once the word started getting around, Lee said.

“We've had individuals flying in from Sundance, Goldsby, Tulsa and Norman just to take a look at it,” he said.

This would be one of three open simulators available in the state — the others are in Tulsa and at Wiley Post, Lee said.

Those two are part of 141 operation schools, which are quite a bit more expensive and are very tightly-reined as far as who can utilize them, Lee said.

He said his operation is a non-FAA oversighted training environment, so they don't have the same costs and overhead associated with that, allowing them to provide lower rates.

“The FAA inspector has looked at the unit, as well,” Lee said. “We have gone back and forth about getting it up and running with all the certifications we want it to be capable of; we can use it for basic private pilot the way it sits, but we can also improve its certification process with a process operations inspector.”

Basically, Lee said, the unit gives all the training that can be received from most of the prop-driven aircraft you have sitting out there on the field.

“And it will be more of a school-based environment,” he said. “Rather than going out and spending three digits' worth of money on an airplane — you can come in here and 'sim' for about $50 an hour and do the same job and hone your skills.”

Right now, Lee said his plan is to offer single-engine instrument training, though the simulator is fully capable of operating all the way to turbine.

He is still working to upgrade the certification process.

Airport Manager Bonnie Wilson said the space proposed for housing the simulator is in a corner of the current pilot lounge — a space that is underutilized and currently provides no revenue to the airport.

Lee said the simulator can be used for initial flight training and to hone skills for a variety of aircraft types. The fee for simulator-based training is currently estimated at $120 to $145 per hour for the simulator — dependent on the type of aircraft — and $45 to $50 per hour for instructor services.

“It is likely that this service will attract aircraft operators to SNL, thereby increasing operations counts and fuel sales,” Wilson said.

The board voted to allow Wilson to present a recommendation to the Shawnee Airport Authority to enter into a 1-year lease agreement between the city and RCA, with an option to renew.