AFRL's Total In-Flight Simulator is celebrating 50 years of service.

AFRL's Total In-Flight Simulator (TIFS), a Convair C-131 Samaritan aircraft, entered service on March 22, 1955. The C-131 aircraft had performed various transport operations for approximately a decade up to that point, and the Air Force (AF) Flight Dynamics Laboratory—now AFRL— subsequently chose it for a very special mission: developing next-generation air vehicles.

Performing extensive modification, AFRL transformed the airplane into TIFS, a one-of-a-kind simulator that engineers can program to simulate virtually any type of air vehicle, in flight, with six degrees of freedom. When most other C-131s left the AF's active fleet in the late 1970s, TIFS was just beginning to support programs such as the space shuttle, B-1 and B-2 bombers, and numerous private sector tests and development efforts.

Figure 1. TIFS simulation cockpit configuration
AFRL owns TIFS, and Calspan Corporation operates it through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. Mr. Norman Weingarten, Calspan's in-flight simulation operations manager, began his involvement with this airplane while working as a project engineer during the extensive modification effort that produced TIFS. "It's more realistic than a ground simulator, because you are flying an actual airplane in real-world motion with realworld visuals," Mr. Weingarten explains.