By JIM CAVANAGH
The fourth annual RedBird Migration Flight Training Industry and Design Conference was a success no matter how you look at it. Held in late October at Redbird SkyPort at San Marcos Municipal Airport (KHYI) in Texas, the weather was beautiful, the speakers inspirational, and the crowd receptive to what can only be called invigorating presentations.
Redbird Flight Simulations is a leader in flight training technology and marketing. The company’s simulators are renowned, with almost 1,500 in use all over the world. The company has also taken the first steps in adapting strong, dependable airframes to diesel and glass technologies, while its training syllabus is designed to cater to Millennials, the latest generation of young adults.
Redbird has created a comprehensive flight training package that can provide state-of-the-art equipment and technology to a flight school. The package includes a syllabus, tuned to any rating, aircraft, a simulator, in-seat or remote instruction, and the programming and technologies to streamline all aspects of billing and logbook management.
Opening the conference were GA heavyweights Jack Pelton, chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and Craig Fuller, past president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and chairman of the board for Redbird Flight Simulations. Joining them was Jerry Gregoire, Redbird’s founder, a long-time pilot who counts stints at Pepsi and Dell on his resume before forming the company in 2006.
Presenters at the conference included Joe Brown, president of Hartzell Propellers, who discussed today’s partnerships, as well as George Bye, president of Aero Electric Aircraft Corp. and Bye Energy, which is developing an electric-powered training aircraft. He made it clear that the future of electric flight is not as far into the future as one might think.
Futurist Thornton May, author of “The New Know,” gave an energizing, somewhat shocking, and fast-paced look at today’s market and the culture of individuals of this latest generation.
He was followed by Donald Marinelli, PhD., co-founder and chief creative advisor of etcetera edutainment, which was created to transform how today’s technologically oriented students are educated. A thespian, his presentation was dramatic, comprehensive, and very entertaining.
There was plenty of time to check out Redbird’s fleet of simulators, including a full motion helicopter sim, which filled the training room of the SkyPort facility. Using TRACE Technology, instructors can virtually accompany a student on both simulator and flights in real aircraft. Flights can be monitored in real time, and reviewed afterwards should the instructor deem it necessary.
Also on display were three RedHawk aircraft, which are Cessna 172s modified with a Continental CD-135 diesel engine and outfitted with glass panels and telemetry equipment to facilitate the TRACE technology. Migration attendees were welcome to demo any of the three aircraft on the line.
If any one word could be applied to RedBird aviation, it would be futuristic. Let a bunch of IT guys loose in aviation and the results will astound and somewhat intimidate you. Give them wrenches and a diesel engine, and you will see the first fleet of Jet-A powered aircraft at flight schools around the world.
Someone always has to take the first step down a path. We watched as this was done at the 2014 Redbird Migration.