Ritter’s Frozen Custard has been at the top of Stuart’s favorite places list for many years. Last week, he and I were finishing up some errands and it occurred to me that Ritter’s was very close. He had curled up in his official front right seat in the car. But, when I turned into Ritter’s from Stop 11 Road, he jumped up and his tail was going crazy.
We got our favorite custard treats and found a place to sit and enjoy them. A family sat down at the table next to us. They were also enjoying custard treats and their two children were interested in Stuart. Stuart finished his Pup-Cup and enjoyed being petted by the kids. As we were getting ready to head back to the car, I noticed that the father was wearing a company shirt. I recognized the family name of that business.
Otto’s Parking Marking was the business name on his shirt. I quickly introduced myself and started explaining how I was acquainted to his family. I spent a couple of years living and working in Southern California. During that time, I discovered a commercial driving school that used simulators as part of their training. It was known as Link Driving Center and it was a franchise.
I contacted my friend, Ken Otto and told him about the opportunity to maybe operate a franchise in Indianapolis. I moved back to Indianapolis a few months later and we obtained some financial assistance to open our local outlet.
Soon we were in Binghamton, N.Y., learning all about the existing training programs and the ones that were being developed. The Link Simulator Company, a division of the Singer Company developed simulators for cars, trucks, trains, buses, airplanes and spacecraft.
One afternoon, I was seated in a simulator for a single engine propeller driven aircraft. After my instructor talked me through the preflight inspection, I completed the process of starting the engine while I was sitting in what looked like a ride at an amusement park. He then showed me how to release the brake and instructed me to accelerate. He showed me the speed indicator and when it reached 80 mph I was to pull back on the steering wheel.
As I pulled back on the wheel, the simulator began tilting back. I had the feeling of climbing into the sky. I was talked through several maneuvers and provided with information as to what the various gauges were indicating.
I was then told to begin the landing process. The simulator tilted forward as my altitude was decreasing. I suddenly remembered that my instructor had explained to me how many feet the landing strip was above sea level. I quickly made some corrections and was smoothly gliding down toward that reading. In a very hasty manner, my instructor reached inside my cockpit and harshly pushed the wheel forward and down.
It felt like I had hit the runway very hard and I heard a loud screeching noise. As I climbed out, he was laughing and explained to me that no one was going to make as smooth a landing on their first attempt. He said he needed to make a last second adjustment to allow me the experience of a scary landing.
I was amazed to notice that my hands were shaking and that I was wet from perspiration after my short time in the simulator. He then walked me down a long hall and opened a door that led into a very large area where I was shown a working simulator of a Boeing 747. He took me inside and explained that a pilot could fully learn to fly the aircraft using that simulator.
That was an amazing day. I was certain that our Link Driving Center and the use of simulators was going to be very successful.
It was very nice to meet some members of Ken Otto’s family that I had never met before. Stuart explained to me on the way home that he never ever wanted to participate in the operation of a simulator.