|By Carmelo Turdo|
Students and guests gathered in a training classroom in the Parks College hangar to enjoy some lunch and receive a briefing about the Flying Billikens team and the upcoming SAFECON regional competition. Event coordinator Grace Workman and several Flying Billikens team members introduced the flying competition events, including Navigation, Spot Landing, Message Drop, Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation, Ground Trainer Instrument Flight, Flight Computer Accuracy, Pre-Flight Inspection and Aircraft Recognition. Flying Billikens team members who participate in the actual flying events must have earned their Private Pilot Certificate, and they participate in team practice sessions over marked sections of the runway at St. Louis Downtown Airport.
Following the presentation, the group was escorted to a position to observe a demonstration of the Message Drop performed by several two-person crews flying their Diamond DA-20 fleet aircraft. The streamer-equipped message box is dropped by a second crew member in the aircraft on a marked target, with the score for the drop based on the distance measured from where the message box lands to the target. The approach and moment of the drop are based on the altitude and airspeed/groundspeed of the approach and the wind conditions. In a competition, judges and observers would be on hand to score the drop and retrieve the message boxes.
Parks College uses the Diamond DA-20 pictured above for their primary flight training. Other aircraft are used for instrument flight, complex commercial and twin-engine flight training - Piper Arrow, Piper Seminole and Cirrus SR20. These aircraft can be seen flying daily out of St. Louis Downtown Airport.
The Aero Experience thanks Parks College of St. Louis University for their hospitality during our visit with the Flying Billikens. For an in-depth look into a SAFECON competition, see our series from the 2015 Region 6 SAFECON hosted by Parks College.