Redbird Challenge on final approach

Think you have mad pilot skills? Are you willing to prove it and possibly win a free trip to AirVenture?

You  can, if you enter the Flying Cup Challenge sponsored by Redbird Flight Simulations, Flying Magazine, Jeppesen and ForeFlight.

Introduced at SUN ’n FUN, the challenge has proven popular with pilots.

“Challenges are being flown in 32 states, Canada, and Australia,” said Redbird’s Jeff VanWest. “Participants have now logged over 4,500 flights. With an average of 50 flights per day, that will likely be over 7,500 flights by the time finalists are chosen in early July.”

The top scoring participants will compete against each other at AirVenture on Wednesday, July 30, on the main stage in Phillips 66 Square. Airshow pilot Michael Goulian will host.

There’s still time to compete, according to VanWest.

Go to FlyingChallenge.com and register. You’ll be given a five-digit personal identification number (PIN). That PIN interfaces with a USB headset at the Redbird sim at participating flight schools, which are listed on the challenge’s website.

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, including precision landings, steep turns and Lazy Eights. Each maneuver is scored using the criteria contained in the Practical Test Standards.

The scenarios are interactive. The computer provides feedback, just like an instructor would, to help the challenge participant improve his or her score. The USB  records the pilot’s score, and the top finishers are recorded on a virtual leader board on the Challenge website.

The purpose of the challenge is to encourage pilots to increase their proficiency, according to VanWest.

CFIs at participating schools say the challenge has accomplished that task.

Jon-Samuel Fuller

Jon-Samuel Fuller

“The feedback provided by the challenge is validation of what the students learn in their training,” said Jon-Samuel Fuller, a CFI at Galvin Flying Service at King County International Airport/Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle. “We fly to the standards set forth by the practical test standards. The software developers have captured that so the software models are what the maneuver is supposed to look like.”

One of the most popular challenge Maneuvers is the Lazy 8, he noted.

“It is somewhat surprising how many elements are involved in the maneuver,” he said. “There is quite a bit of criteria that is graded.”
Lazy 8s are part of the Commercial Pilot PTS and involve a mastery of pitch, airspeed, and bank angle. Because of this, they are one of the most challenging maneuvers to master in the real world, as well as the virtual world.

Galvin CFI Richard Johnson added the challenge has brought in more customers.

Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson

“Every week we have a handful of clients who do not rent aircraft from us or who are not specifically training with us come in to fly the challenge,” he said.

Johnson noted that some of the pilots taking part in the challenge say the proficiency attained in the Redbird has helped them improve their flying in actual airplanes.

The Redbird is particularly good, say both Fuller and Johnson, as a procedures trainer for emergencies, such as a loss of engine power on takeoff or vacuum failure in the clouds, because a CFI can introduce the failures from an external keyboard rather than reaching across the cockpit to cover instruments or pulling the throttle out.

“The students don’t realize that the failure is coming, just like they wouldn’t know in the real world,” said Fuller.

For more information: FlyingChallenge.com

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