ABC News Takes to the Skies With Simulator

ABC News graphics' department is flying right with its coverage of the war in Iraq thanks to the use of the Evans & Sutherland EP1000CT system. The graphics system is responsible for bringing viewers accurate fly-over graphics of Baghdad based on commercial satellite photos.

ABC worked with the system back during the first Gulf War but about six months ago began discussing with E&S how it could use the system to give viewers a better sense of where a story was taking place. The interest was not driven by the potential war.

"I now truly understand Baghdad and its terrain," says Roger Goodman, vice president, ABC News. "It's a very good visual device."

And also a very good flight simulator: It was designed to train pilots how to fly. The system's map information is taken from commercial satellites 22,000 miles up and can zoom in as close as two feet. The EP1000CT (EP stands for environment processor, CT stands for continuous texture) has PC components and simulation-specific hardware and software.

Goodman says it took about two months to train the operators to "fly" the system with a joystick. Technological "bookmarks" throughout Middle East direct and operator within 10 miles of a city or location and from there, they fly in closer. "If [reporters] mention something to the north of a city the operator then banks right or left to get to that location," says Goodman.