Approaches into Aspen, Colorado (ASE) is an industry standard when it comes to difficult approaches that require maximum situational awareness and adherence to strict procedures and a knowledge of the performance of your aircraft. There is very little room for error when shooting instrument approaches into ASE and SimuFlite has an excellent rendition of Aspen in their Citation V simulator. If nothing else humbles you, shooting a single engine missed approach off Aspen certainly will. Combining high terrain, reduced airplane performance, a steeper than normal non-precision approach with an unusual missed approach procedure (flying outbound on a localizer backcourse), there are few places as challenging as Aspen to hone your skills.
After two days of training in the simulator we turn to the book work. Knowing your airplane is just as important as knowing how to fly your airplane and SimuFlite has an excellent staff of ground instructors that give us a great refresher on how everything works in our airplane. The classes run 7 hours a day for two days and cover all of the aircraft systems in detail. As the years have passed I’ve found I’ve retained more and more each time I come back to SimuFlite and by now I feel like I have a pretty good handle on most of the systems. The nice thing about the classes is that the SimuFlite instructors get to see new clients every few days. As such, they are able to collect and disseminate information from other operators that can be useful to all of us. Very often these “war stories” lead to interesting discussions that reveal things about the aircraft that none of us knew. SimuFlite has a very modern and structured lesson plan that covers each system thoroughly and uses computer based diagrams and schematics to present the information in a way that is fairly easy to digest.
Much of the “off” time while at SimuFlite is spent in preparation for the oral, which covers aircraft systems, Part 135 and general airmanship regulations. I’ve found the formula for success is to start studying aircraft limitations and memory items a few days prior to heading out to SimuFlite, then the detailed ground school classes fill in the gaps and refresh my memory from previous years. For someone who likes to spend lots of times in the mountains and on vacation it still feels like a lot of work to me.