The Omnipotent Power of a Flight Director. All In a Day's Work
Hello Space EdVenture Fans!
Ever wonder what it's like to be a starship simulator Flight Director using the Williamson Modus Operandi first developed for my classroom ship Pegasus in 1983 and refined in the first modern simulator of its kind, the USS Voyager from 1990 to 2012. I call it the wizard behind the curtain approach?
Well, number 1, it's kind of like being the Dungeon Master in a Dungeons and Dragons game except that you're not seen AND you're outfitted with some really cool technology which makes you all powerful and omnipotent. In your hands lies the fate of the universe and the destiny of the human race, along with several other alien civilizations thrown into the mix for amusement and story telling purposes. After all, all good stories need protagonists and antagonists.
A good flight director needs nerves of steel and a mind able to comprehend an avalanche of information and requests. He deals with these inputs using a well understood set of triage guidelines; skillfully moving tasks and storyline plots from front to back burner without the crew in the simulator any the wiser.
Before him are multiple screens displaying technical data from the simulator itself. Above her are speakers allowing her to hear the crew in action. She responds to their questions without delay, especially if she's playing the ship's computer. His wand is a microphone. Using it, and a multi-accented voice, he becomes the many characters who inhabit his ship and the universe he's created.
Beside her sits her wingman - the 2nd chair - the IIFX station. Her second usually runs the video and tactical screens, operates both internal and external communications, and masterfully directs what we call in the trade - the second story line. The Second's job is to make the flight director look good at all times. The Second also plays the simulator's stage director, responsible for the volunteer actors, props, and mission continuity. Training to be a flight director is always on the mind of a good Second.
Saturdays are my day to stop by the various Space Center's and watch the flight directors and 2nd chairs in action. Seeing what I developed being put to use for hundreds of people a week by awesomely trained and talented young people is a wonderful thing. These folks are sharp and innovative, always looking for ways to improve their craft. It is an honor to know them. I want to thank them, and the directors of the various centers for allowing me these visits. Not many people get to see their life's work entertain and educate so many people.
I'd like to introduce you to a few of these talented people I found working the Saturday missions. From their tiny control rooms, they create the magic that makes these mission so fun and educational.
This is Mason (red) from the Discovery Space Center directing a mission on the Colonial Command Ship Everest. Beside him sits his able bodied 2nd - Jacob.
Jon Parker (right) works as a flight director at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. Mason was his 2nd that day. They're directing a Phoenix mission.
Jacob also works as a flight director at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. He has a new volunteer helping in the 2nd chair position. He is directing a Galileo mission.
Volunteering, or interning is the way to become a flight director at any of the Space Centers located along the Wasatch Front in Utah. Contact the centers or visit their web sites to learn how to get started along the flight directing path to power and glory!
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