MILITARY MATTERS: Virtual Reality Parachute Simulator Opens at National Infantry Museum

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 10:54 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Would you like to know what it feels like to jump out of a military airplane? A premier soldier center in the Chattahoochee Valley is giving you that chance.

Up and down, in mid-air, hanging from a parachute. That’s your view from the newest combat simulator at the National Infantry Museum, just outside Fort Benning, home of the U.S. Army airborne school.

The virtual reality experience has been tried by moms and dads of soldiers, people who already jump out of planes, and others who hope to.

Army PV2 Jaden Ancone, stationed on Fort Benning, said “Oh the ride, it’s really realistic. I have plans to go Airborne in my future, so it’s kind of a really good start.”

“The idea behind the virtual reality simulator is to provide family members the opportunity to see what a day in the life of a soldier is like,” VR Simulator Project Coordinator CSM (Ret) Steve McClaflin told us.

“Part of the education is to show the innovation that happens here at Fort Benning as the birthplace of the parachute infantry. These simulations continue that heritage,” National Infantry Museum CEO/President BG (Ret) Pete Jones said.

They just had a grand opening for the Para-drop airborne assault simulator.

And they let me strap in, put on the virtual reality goggles, and do the mock jump out of a C130 plane. You control rising or falling, turning left or right. It’s thrilling and quick. I’ve never jumped out of a plane, so took some getting used to.

“As a parachutist myself, when I start to crash into one of those trees, I revert back to my training,” Jones said.

“All the 82nd guys, 82nd airborne division, I hope to be a paratrooper one day like them. This game really gave me insight of what it’s like to do real jumps,” Ancone added.

It cost the museum half a million dollars, with help from corporate partners. It costs you $10 per try for 2 minutes of being in the action.

“One is on a moon base, desert environment, some other mountainous territories, and one in the city (Bangkok),” McClaflin said about some of the options.

“Your scores go out, and on each one of the games, you can see where you stand, not just in Columbus, but internationally,” Jones said.

WTVM videographer Rico Mitchell tried the ride too. He topped 50,000 points, compared to my score of 35,000. I’ll try to do better on the next jump.