Anthony Construction is bar none the absolute best in the business. Building our unique professional home-based airline quality flight and racing simulator center is a direct result of Anthony’s outstanding work. My customers are amazed when they visit my simulator center. They always say they forget they’re in my home and feel like they’re in a professional airline training facility. Every phase, from the planning to construction, to constant refinement of my ‘anything but the normal project,’ was handled with the utmost professionalism by the entire dedicated staff at Anthony Builders. Their customer service is unmatched.
United Airlines Pilot Jason Baron always dreamed of owning a flight school and teaching students how to fly. After flying for 28 years to destinations worldwide, he wanted to explore options that would keep him close to home. The plans for Jason’s state-of-the-art flight and auto racing simulator center began in February of 2014. He’d heard about Anthony Builders from a mutual friend and invited them to spec out his dream.
“My goal was to build a flight and racing training and simulation center with some of the highest-performing general aviation flight and professional race car simulators in the world,” explains Jason. “The space would need to be professional and separate from my home, therefore requiring a private entrance. It would cater to pilots who wanted to further their training, non-pilots who wished to experience the feel of flight, as well as professional racers, or anyone wanting to feel what it’s like to drive a real race car.”
Within a 50-mile radius of his Lehigh Valley home, Jason determined there were 3.5 million residents and approximately 5,000 pilots. His initial plan was to provide FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) training and mentorship to pilots on their quest to earn entry-level airline pilot requirements. As the scope of the project expanded, Jason decided to purchase additional race car simulators to broaden his market. This plan would enable him to offer multiple simulator packages, for piloting, race car driving or both. It would also provide the opportunity for non-pilots to experience the thrill of flight, and perhaps influence some to enter the profession.
Anthony Builders knew they could create the space Jason wanted. Nevertheless, it would be an intricate project requiring attention to detail not comparable to the typical basement remodel. Considerations ranged from having an area large enough for the simulators, professional soundproofing, complex electrical requirements and a commercial-grade security system. Other details included buying insurance to cover the simulators during the home delivery, and assuring the simulators could maneuver down the hallways before assembly.
Final plans featured a private entrance and drive and renovating 1,600 square feet of Jason’s basement with seven finished rooms. The project, by its nature, changed daily – up until the day of completion – with priorities shifting and various needs arising during construction. To say the least, flexibility from Anthony was key.
Before construction, Anthony Builders recommended adding a second sump pump to protect the basement area, which was critical for the space to remain 100% dry both during and after construction. During the framing, Jason also asked Anthony Builders to soundproof the entire lower level and to research the best method. “We began to realize how loud the surround sound would be from the three simulators; it only made sense to soundproof,” says Jason.
Soundproofing was no small task. It began with insulating the entire frame and ceiling with high-density insulation. After the first layer of insulation, two layers of sheet rock were constructed within the walls using six-inch metal batts. Between the first and second layer of sheet rock, air would become trapped to create the buffer for noise. The goal was for students in separate simulator rooms or the occupants upstairs to have no disturbance.
Once the construction was completed, the heavy lifting wasn’t yet done. “The simulators are large, heavy and expensive,” explains Jason. “When they arrived, Anthony was there with a forklift to take the simulators off the semi. With each weighing between 1,500 and 3,000 pounds, it was a massive undertaking. Nothing we could just carry down the steps.” Designed to Jason’s specifications, the simulators are extremely valuable and not easily replaced. Anthony Builders recommended purchasing an additional insurance policy to ensure safe delivery and protection during installation. During the design phase, hallway measurements were adjusted to allow adequate space for delivery.
Anthony also connected Jason to a supplier for a commercial-grade security system costing about $20,000. “With my investment, I needed much more than the standard home security system,” relates Jason. He ended up purchasing a 13-camera security system with various levels of remote access features. Keypads are situated at the outside entrance as well as at each simulator room entry door.
Jason cannot say enough about the substantial time Frank Alexander spent keeping him at ease throughout the process. “He helped with just about every aspect, ensuring the work was completed precisely to our needs.” Even the electrical work was non-standard, requiring special amp independence, with double and triple backups for some of the wiring. The security system also required additional wiring. In the end, every detail was accomplished.
Details Make The Difference
Because professionalism is essential to his success, Jason wanted to replicate a professional training center to the smallest detail. For example, his 10’ by 10’ briefing room was designed to the exact scale as those found in major airline simulator training centers and executive jet pilot training centers. “We matched as many details as we could, down to the dimensions of the conference table,” adds Jason. The room itself features a large whiteboard for discussion and a flat-screen TV for training videos and PowerPoint presentations. Visitors and students can observe through a large four-foot-square window or the glass double doors leading to the flight simulator room.
The center’s simulators are the best in the industry. The flight simulator is FAA-approved, with a mini-cockpit area, high-impact visuals and options to replicate a variety of weather conditions. Designed for general aviation, it can simulate 42 different planes, including most single-engine aircraft, multi-engine aircraft, as well as an executive/corporate turbo-prop and small jet aircraft.
The racing simulators offer a tremendous user experience as well. The first simulator has three 55-inch monitors for realistic graphics; the second has three, still-impressive 24-inch monitors. The racing simulator room has built-in surround sound speakers, and the room is painted charcoal gray to enhance the visuals and overall feel. To prevent distractions, lighting can be dimmed, so the student becomes totally engrossed in the simulation.
Lehigh Valley Flight & Racing Simulations, Jason’s in-home, professional flight and racing simulator center is now complete, and to his knowledge, nothing like this is available to the aviation community or public. “The biggest testament to the project’s success is that visitors never feel like they’re in a home,” states Jason. “The center is entirely self-sufficient, just like an airline or racing center. And that was my ultimate goal.”
Jason is excited to share his simulator center and 28 years of flight experience with the public and students.
It took six weeks to finalize plans, with construction starting the spring of 2014. By the end of August, construction was complete and ready for the delivery of the first simulator.