Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Meredith Carroll

Second Advisor

Amanda L. Thayer

Third Advisor

Donna F. Wilt

Fourth Advisor

John E. Deaton


It is estimated that spatial disorientation-related accidents account for roughly 33% of all aviation mishaps with a 90% fatality rate (Gibb et al., 2011). Research meant to establish common practices and standardization of spatial disorientation (SD) training is needed to work toward decreasing this staggering statistic. The current study investigated the viability of a novel SD Induction Strategy that combined rotation about the vertical axis, visual cue input from a wireless virtual reality (VR) head mounted display (HMD) flight environment, and tactile input from a wireless joystick controller. To assess this combination’s effectiveness, Bank situation awareness (SA) and Pitch SA, SD Cue Strength, and a flight performance (FP) Score were measured for a Coriolis and a Graveyard Spiral Scenario. Two Multivariate Analyses of Variance (MANOVAs) were conducted to compare these variables. Results of Bank SA, as measured by the difference between perceived bank angle and actual bank angle being flown where a greater difference was interpreted as degraded SA, was degraded in the Graveyard Spiral Scenario but improved (lesser difference) in the Coriolis Scenario. Pitch SA, as measured by the difference between perceived pitch angle and actual pitch angle being flown where a greater difference was interpreted as degraded SA, was degraded in the Coriolis Scenario only. SD Cue Strength, as measured on a Likert scale of intensity, was rated higher in the experimental condition in both the Coriolis and the Graveyard Spiral Scenarios, suggesting the SD Induction Strategy presence increases relevant SD Cue Strength. The FP Score, as measured on a scale of success of participants flying specified bank and pitch angles, was not found to be affected in either scenario. Motion sickness, as measured by self-reported ratings on a relevant symptom Likert scale of intensity, was found to increase with the SD Induction Strategy presence, however, symptoms more closely mirrored those of prolonged wearing of VR HMDs rather than symptoms associated with motion sickness. Results suggest this combination has potential for being a viable training platform that spans the gap between conventional low-fidelity trainers and full-motion simulators.


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