100th MXG airman revolutionizes training with computer simulations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Campbell
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Virtual reality gives people the chance to explore and experience the world in ways they never could before. VR’s ability to provide reward without risk is proven to be beneficial outside of just entertainment and games.

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Havener, 100th Maintenance Group aircraft electrical and environmental systems craftsman and NCO in charge of VR, was inspired by VR programs to create his very own project.

Havener dubbed the project “3-D Walkthrough” to assist U.S. Air Force maintainers with on-the-job training.

Havener arrived at Royal Air Force Mildenhall in February 2021, and began working on a new airframe for the third time in his career. Air Force electrical and environmental systems technicians can work on a variety of aircraft, but with each aircraft having distinct systems and technology, keeping track of the differences can be a daunting task.

Havener knew he could shorten the learning curve for Airmen across the Air Force by creating a new program that would optimize training Air Force-wide for all career fields.

“In my career field, it’s possible for us to work on multiple aircraft throughout our entire careers,” said Havener. “I wanted to make the transition between aircrafts easier for others, as well as getting new Airmen up to speed.”

Havener created the training tool from an existing software which functions like Google Street View but programmed it as a three-dimensional walkthrough of the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and its many systems.

“With the 3-D Walkthrough, users are able to click on different components and see their functions,” said Havener. “You can read all about how each system works with one another and go step-by-step through different procedures.”

Havener’s first 3-D Walkthrough build was tailored for KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft maintainers, but the program can also be applied to train other aircraft and career fields across the Air Force.

“I've made another 3-D Walkthrough for aerospace ground equipment and it could also be used for any other Air Force specialty codes,” said Havener. “A walkthrough could be created for floor plans or models of buildings to help security forces or firefighters navigate buildings before physically heading inside.”

Havener introduced his project during Team Mildenhall’s Spark Tank in May 2023, where Airmen across base submitted their ideas for innovation to receive support from base leadership and funds to further improve on their unit.

“I created a presentation and a video to showcase to my leadership during the finals, and I was selected as the winner,” said Havener. “I’ve received funding for a certification course so I am able to teach the program to other training detachments.”

Havener has already introduced the 3-D Walkthrough program to other KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft training detachments, and is working on formally introducing it to the Air Education and Training Command.

“I've passed it off to all the active-duty maintenance training sections and some of the guard maintenance training sections,” said Havener. “Team Mildenhall’s Detachment 19 has started using it for training and began creating their own CV-22 Osprey and MC-130J Commando II aircraft walkthroughs.”

Training instructors at RAF Mildenhall, started using the 3-D Walkthrough tool during their classroom training to reinforce procedures in technical orders before going hands-on with the aircraft.

“I have been able to use the 3-D Walkthrough in the classroom, especially with my maintenance students,” said Tech. Sgt. James Beavers, 100th MXG aerospace maintenance craftsman and NCOIC of training. “It provides a stable environment to review components without outside distractions.”

Instructors have seen an improvement in the receptiveness of students and the retention of the information since introducing the 3-D Walkthrough into OJT training.

“The components in the aircraft that we're utilizing, replacing, or inspecting are often difficult to reach or see. Now, I am able to verify that all students can see the process before getting to the flightline,” said Beavers. “Being able to show an aircraft component to everybody at the same time has had a big impact.”

Beavers credited Havener for his dedication with the 3-D Walkthrough.

“The possibilities are endless, the important thing is having somebody dedicated that can put in the time and effort into making these thorough,” said Beavers. “Havener is very motivated and he's passionate about what he does; that’s why he has been so successful.”

Havener’s project is making its way beyond the U.S. Air Force, and has garnered interest from partner nations militaries.

“The Royal Air Force has contacted me about the 3-D Walkthrough, because they want to make their own,” said Havener. “I think this is an awesome project, and I love it from the ground up. I know there’s more potential in this.”

The initiative Havener had to revolutionize training, not only for Team Mildenhall Airmen but for those across the Air Force or even allied services was built on passion and a drive to help others.

“I've received feedback from instructors across the Air Force, not just our training detachment, that have expressed nothing but gratitude,” said Havener. “This is why I want to be a trainer, and why I want to follow this project all the way to the very end.”

Through commitment to service and ability to think outside the box, Airmen have the capability to change the future of the armed forces and inspire those around them to do the same.

One of the many goals of the U.S. Air Force is to empower Airmen across the organization to find better ways of accomplishing their mission. There are amazing amounts of resources and funding available to installations across the U.S. Air Force for Airmen to utilize. Team Mildenhall has created a culture to provide the tools and training and make it easier for Airmen like Havener to succeed.