Pilots smiling in the cockpit of a planeTwo FAA airway science grants totaling $1.2 million helped fund the World Indoor Airport (WIA), a top-notch aerospace simulation laboratory for training pilots and ground professionals. The facility bolstered MSU Denver’s growing Aviation and Aerospace Science Department.

It was created by aerospace science students and faculty, spearheaded by faculty member Robert Bugg and department chair Robert Mock, who was a retired Air Force colonel and legend in Colorado’s aviation community.

Today, the WIA is considered one of the finest collegiate aviation and aerospace computer and flight-simulation training laboratories in the country. The WIA has multiple laboratories that contain FAA-approved flight training devices (simulators), aerospace computer-based training systems, air traffic controller training stations and avionics equipment.

In February 1996, one year after the WIA opened, Denver cable television magnate Bill Daniels asked the Aerospace Science Department to run the command center for his record-breaking around-the-world flight in a Learjet 35. During Daniels’ flight, four MSU Denver students replicated his actions using a WIA simulator configured to match the Lear’s performance data.

From Daniels’ takeoff from nearby Centennial Airport and on to the Bahamas, North Africa, across Asia and back, the simulator crew received updated flight and weather data. The students mirrored every part of Daniels’ 55-hour journey. This exploit brought a new level of celebrity and attention to the facility.

When Robert Mock died in 2008, leaders in the local aviation industry and others asked that the WIA be named for him. Today, it is indeed known as the Robert K. Mock World Indoor Airport.