Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

SAFECON Region VI Competition in St. Louis: Navigation and Instrument Flying Events

By Carmelo Turdo
St. Louis University's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology is proud to host SAFECON Region VI competition this week at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  The week-long event is sponsored by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) to encourage college student aviators to interact with fellow students at other institutions while sharpening their flying skills and aviation knowledge.  Today's activities included the Navigation Event and the Ground Trainer Event (instrument flight) - getting the contestants back in the cockpit and proving their flying skills.

Following yesterday's visit to the St. Louis University main campus, the SAFECON Region VI competition returned to St. Louis Downtown Airport.  The Aero Experience coverage began early in order to take advantage of the mild autumn weather and the image of the sunrise behind the numerous aircraft on the Ideal Aviation apron.  It was the start of another wonderful day in Midwest Aviation:

Rachel Munger and Creedance Chambers
The flying events began early as well, with much of the day spent cycling three crews from each college through the Navigation Event, during which competitors must plan and fly a route ranging from 70-120 miles using three to five separate flight legs.  One of the crews participating in the Navigation Event from the St. Louis University Flying Billikens consisted of Rachel Munger and Creedance Chambers.  They were given a flight plan with chosen waypoints, and they were tasked with plotting their course, projecting times over each waypoint and total flight time, and calculating fuel consumption.  Munger and Chambers were tracked by the judges using a GPS device as they flew their route and were graded on their performance.  They were very confident in their abilities prior to takeoff, and felt that the flight went well upon their return.  Munger did comment that winds aloft were stronger than forecast, and may have affected ground speed and thus the times projected for each leg of the flight.  We will not know the Navigation Event flight scores until the final results are announced on Friday.  Here are some scenes from their departure and later return to the staging area, along with some views of other teams as they flew the event as well:

As with their military pilot brethren, sometimes the teams' flying activities are accompanied by a lot of "hurry up and wait" time between flights.  Some crews visited with the Trans States Airlines representatives or tossed bean bags to pass the time.


Later in the day, team pilots participated in the Ground Trainer Event that tests the ability to fly in Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) conditions in the Frasca simulators.  Accuracy in maintaining altitude, airspeed and heading without ground references were evaluated.  Yesterday, competitors were given a series of flight maneuvers they were required to demonstrate in the simulator and they were given a limited amount of time to practice their maneuvers.  Earlier in the day, we saw two pilots from Oklahoma State University, Paul Downing and Rachel Earnhardt, practicing the maneuvers by walking them on the apron outside of the Parks College hangar in the same way that airshow pilots walk their airshow prior to a performance.  Later we met Kolton Slater, a 200-hour instrument rated pilot from the University of Central Missouri, who explained the many variables involved with performing the required 10-minute "flight" before he was called to the simulator.  Achieving the required speed, rate of climb and course change requirements of the assignment were very challenging, Slater told The Aero Experience.  We will find out more about how challenging it was on Friday.

Wednesday's events, the Short Field Landing and Power Off Landing, will include a full day of flying.  A visit by a Trans States jet and crew is planned for tomorrow, and following the flying events, the teams and other visitors will gather at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum.  Check back with The Aero Experience for more coverage of the SAFECON Region VI competition the rest of this week. 

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