Updated: 02/20/2013 10:28 AM KSTP.com By: Tim Sherno
Local businessman Michael Pohl says he had an idea for improving flight simulators, "We started with a drawing."
After years of research and design Pohl has installed the new wrap-around flight simulator at his business, A.C.E.S Flight Simulators at the Mall of America. According to Pohl, the new simulators are popular with experienced aviators, "The pilots we've had fly these things, a third of our customers are pilots, are astounded."
Pohl says his design is based on three innovations; the screen, the software and the lens that projects the images, "The most challenging is the software."
Pohl designed a fully enclosed shell that houses the simulator. The custom made screen wraps 230 degrees around the person inside the simulator. Pohl says he worked with a computer expert who used existing two dimensional images, and those images were purposely distorted to unique specifications. Finally, the distorted video is projected through a custom lens onto the bowl shaped screen below. Pohl says his images are different then the images in military flight simulators because the images he uses are seamless, "What the military system does with nine projectors we do with one projector.
TJ Kruetzer is a former F16 pilot who currently flies for a major airline. Kruetzer says he's flown in both military and commercial airline simulators and Pohl's simulator is comparable, "I think it's awesome. I haven't seen one at a civilian owned facility that's anything like this. It's fantastic."
Pohl says military simulators can cost millions of dollars and that his simulator can accomplish 80% features of the higher priced models.
The Surround View Simulators are open to the public at A.C.E.S. Flight Simulation at the Mall of America.