Author Background

Dr. Ryan Guthridge is an Assistant Professor in the Aviation Department at the University of North Dakota (UND). Through his background in data analytics, Ryan has analyzed flight data to identify events hazardous to flight safety, quantified the impact of procedures-based changes on flight efficiency, and assessed the performance of pilots in skills-based flight training maneuvers. Ryan is an FAA-certified Instrument Flight Procedure Validation pilot and holds FAA type ratings in the Airbus A320 and Boeing B737. Ryan received a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics from the University of North Dakota, Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas, PhD from the University of North Dakota, and Professional Certificates in Business Intelligence, Data Mining, and Learning Analytics.

Dr. Virginia Clinton-Lisell began her career in education as an ESL teacher in New York City. She then obtained her PhD in Educational Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science at the University of Minnesota where she was trained in educational research. She has published over 40 articles in education research and teaches courses in education research, program evaluation, and psychological foundations of education. Her current research focuses on the psychology of reading comprehension and open education.


Virtual Reality (VR) technology is a quickly advancing field that has many documented benefits, including highly detailed environments, accuracy to the real world, and low cost of entry in the flight simulation market. At the time of this study, VR technology has not been well tested or widely accepted in the aviation industry. In this mixed methods study, quantitative and qualitative data was collected on beginning-level instrument pilots (n = 120) while performing a visual traffic pattern at an airport. A one-way ANOVA was used to evaluate the equivalence of each group in the study based on previous flight and VR experience. Then, a one-way ANOVA was conducted on pre-test/post-test gain scores to compare each training group, as well as a post hoc Tukey HSD to conduct multiple comparisons and evaluate mean differences between the groups. The results show that participants who train in a VR simulator perform similarly to students who conduct training in a PC-based simulator. Both training groups performed significantly better than the control group, which conducted no training between the pre-test and post-test. Finally, survey data was evaluated to find that students who trained in VR simulators believed they performed better on the post-test than the pre-test and most felt that VR simulators could be an acceptable training technology for use in the flight training curriculum. These results will help inform flight training organizations who are considering new technology that provides a low-cost and high-value alternative to costlier, fixed-based simulators.