I first attended the 23-acre United Airlines Flight Training Center in 1978. At the time, it was still a fairly-new facility, with the initial four buildings constructed in 1968. After completing my Initial Flight Officer training, I was invited to remain on campus as a B-727 instructor for a year before assuming my duties as a B-727 Second Officer (flight engineer) in San Francisco.
Throughout my employment at United, I spent half my career - 13 years out of 26 - as an instructor at the Training Center. I saw numerous changes, including the closure of nearby Stapleton airport and the construction of the "new" F building, which housed additional offices and simulators.
After retirement, I occasionally returned to the Training Center to administer simulator training as a private consultant for other companies. The last time I was there for work was about three years ago. I have to admit, the building was starting to look a bit long in the tooth.
Last week I attended a New Pilot Expo at the United Flight Training Center, for the Metropolitan State University of Denver Aviation Department, where I teach. From the outside, the campus looks pretty much the same, except for some construction on the south side. Once I entered, I was blown away.
Captain Mike McCasky, the Managing Director at United, made an impressive presentation, and every attendee was inspired to become a pilot with United. At the end of the presentations, we all received a tour, and were given the opportunity to see the simulators, flight training devices, and classrooms.
The entire facility has been renovated, and it looks awesome! I recognized the hallways, but was completely lost among the new offices and state-of-the-art classrooms. There are currently 31 full flight simulators and 10 flight training devices in operation. Another 8 simulators and 4 flight training devices are planned. When the additional construction is complete, the Flight Training Center will be the largest airline training facility in the world.
United will be conducting sixty thousand training events this year, and will use over one hundred thousand hotel rooms for trainees. In addition to pilot training, United conducts pilot interviews, flight attendant recurrent training, and Tech Ops training at the facility.