Flying Challenge debuts this week

There is something about aviation that brings out the competitor in all of us. Redbird Flight Simulations and a cadre of sponsors, including Flying Magazine, Jeppesen and ForeFlight, have thrown down the virtual Gauntlet of Challenge to those who want show they have the right stuff through the Flying Challenge Cup.

The Challenge, which debuts Tuesday at SUN ’n FUN, is a series of computer-based scenarios flown in a full-motion Redbird Flight Simulator. The challenge begins Tuesday.

There are three levels of competition: Licensed pilot., student pilot, and everyone else. The challenges come from basic stick and rudder skills pilots should know and are tested on during the acquisition of their pilot certificates, such as precision landings, steep turns and Lazy Eights. Each maneuver is scored using the criteria contained in the Practical Test Standards.

Participants begin by registering at the website FlyingChallenge.com. Once registered, you are issued a five-digit PIN. The PIN interfaces with a USB headset.

“The purpose of the challenge is to encourage pilots to increase their proficiency,” said said Jeff VanWest, director of Redbird Media.

“The challenges are interactive,” he continued. “You get feedback from the simulator, so for steep turns, for example, you might hear ‘more power, increase the bank angle,’ and so forth.”

This means that instead of having an instructor sitting next to you, the simulator will tell you what to do to improve your score. The USB also records the participant’s score.

“The software that makes this possible is being installed in Redbird full-motion simulators around the world,” he said, noting the challenges are set to go live Tuesday.

Pilots can compete anywhere, he noted. “When you log into the sim, you are logging into your personal account,” he said. “Your account follows you around the world.”

Each session begins with a short video. The challenges are scored and saved in the virtual world.

Pilots at SUN ’n FUN are invited to come back to try to improve their scores. The use of the simulator at SUN ‘n FUN is free.

The use of the Redbird simulator at most flight schools usually costs upwards of $75 an hour. Realizing that the cost might deter some people from participating, the Flying Challenge registration site includes a coupon so the first 30 minutes in the sim is just $15. A Google map helps participants find a full-motion Redbird flight simulator that is closest to them.

VanWest noted that since flight schools around the world are participating in the event, all the pilot has to do is pay for the simulator time and bring in his or her PIN to access the interactive program.

SUN ‘n FUN is just the beginning, said VanWest.

“We are working with schools around the world to set up local challenge events,” he noted.

The Challenge ends in July at AirVenture. The 12 people who have the highest scores will get a free trip to AirVenture to compete live for the actual Flying Challenge Cup.

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