Pilots and non-pilots invited to try three flying-skills scenarios that hone their abilities—and could win them a free trip to Airventure at Oshkosh.

Challenge Cup LogoLakeland, FL (April 1, 2014) – A good challenge is irresistible, which is why Redbird Flight Simulations, Bonnier Publications (owner of Flying magazine), and ten other sponsors launched the Flying Challenge Cup at Sun ’n Fun. “It appeals to our competitive nature,” says Charlie Gregoire, VP of Sales and Marketing for Redbird, “but this is much more than a flour-bombing contest amped up to a global scale.”

Gregoire explained that the Challenge is an early example of Redbird TRACE technology, making flight training “more engaging, more effective, and more affordable all at once.” Challenge participants sign up for free at, and get a personal account to track their progress. They also receive a PIN, allowing them to log on to a Redbird simulator at any participating school (including the Redbird tent at Sun ’n Fun) and launch the challenges. Each challenge has three parts: a training video with an overview of the skills involved, a training flight where the participant flies the skills challenge with guidance from TRACE, and a challenge flight where the same skills are evaluated, but with no assistance. Every attempt, assisted or not, has scores shown onscreen and uploaded to the participant’s account. Participants get a coupon at signup, so the first half-hour of sim time at any school is only $15.

“The simulator watches the pilot,” says Gregoire, “measuring, coaching, adapting, scoring, and recording his or her progress.” Gregoire added that the Challenge design, as well as partnership with Bonnier and its network of publications, intentionally reaches beyond the pilot community. “We created specific categories for Student Pilots and Non-Pilots to ensure they would be represented in this challenge. Top performers in all categories get invited to Oshkosh.” Gregoire also noted that, “Potential pilots expect the self-guided, technology-based training available in virtually every other part of their lives. Redbird TRACE provides that, and the Challenge Cup is a great way to showcase it.” Gregoire also says the system is designed so individual schools can run local events and contests based on the challenges.

The three challenges are Precision Landings, Steep Turns, and Lazy Eights, with the Landings challenge opening for flight on the first day of Sun ’n Fun. The others will come online soon after. The Challenge Cup runs from April 1 at Sun ’n Fun through the end of Oshkosh on August 3, though qualifying scores for Oshkosh must be recorded by July 7.


The Redbird VTO is the first helicopter trainer capable of teaching hover, autorotations and ground maneuvers at a price even small helicopter flight schools can afford.

Austin, TX (April 1, 2014) – Redbird Flight Simulations wants you to learn the toughest part of flying helicopters without leaving the ground—or paying hundreds of dollars per hour. “Flying a real helicopter may always be more expensive than an airplane,” says Roger Sharp, General Manager of Flight Operations for Redbird Skyport, “but there should be an affordable, full-motion trainer that teaches critical skills before burning a single hour in a real helicopter. Now there is.”

Redbird announced at Sun ’n Fun that they are taking orders for the Redbird VTO, a full-motion helicopter skills trainer. Sharp says this is the first sub-million-dollar helicopter simulator capable of teaching hovering, autorotations, and ground maneuvers. The first five VTO orders get an introductory price of $129,900. Full price will be $149,900.

Sharp explained that these critical helicopter skills, particularly hovering, demand motions so small and precise the pilot feels the error before current general aviation simulator visuals can display it. This required an entirely new simulator platform and control design. Visuals are critical to helicopter training, however, so the VTO sports a wrap-around view extending from well above the horizon to down through the skids, as well as the latest generation of the simulation software used by Redbird. As with all Redbird products, the design can be adapted for emulating multiple helicopter makes and models, as well as varied cockpit equipment.

The VTO is not yet certified as A-ATD. However, Redbird guarantees a refund to any customers requiring A-ATD status if certification isn’t forthcoming. “Even if you couldn’t log a single hour,” says Sharp, “the cost reduction for training enabled by the VTO will change helicopter training forever.”

Redbird VTO Exterior


Texas State Technical College, National Aviation Academy and Executive Flyers Aviation have signed on to test the new consumption model and technology platform.

Lakeland, FL (April 1, 2014) – The next phase of the RedHawk Experiment will begin early summer led by Brown Aviation Lease (Brown) and RedHawk Aero, LLC. This phase of the experiment is focused on addressing two problems: affordable access to modern flight training equipment, and improving the substandard user experience for fleet operators.

Traditionally, the majority of the flight training market has had a hard time accessing new equipment due to capital restraints. The new consumption model will be a blend of a monthly subscription fee and a fixed hourly rate equal to or less than the rate of a typical training aircraft.

Texas State Technical College, National Aviation Academy and Executive Flyers Aviation will have first access to both the aircraft and the technology in the beta program this May. “If the data from the beta program comes back as expected, we [TSTC] intend to convert our entire fleet of single engine training aircraft over to RedHawks powered by Brown’s platform,” states Texas State Technical College’s Director of Aerospace, Carson Pearce.

“Because we have control over the majority of the RedHawk supply chain through our partnerships, we are able to simplify the operators experience around managing a fleet of aircraft,” states Jason Griswold, Managing Director of Brown Aviation Lease. Griswold elaborated to explain that parts ordering and maintenance tracking will become a much more automated process with RedHawk, cutting out wasted oversight time for flight schools.

Coupled with supply chain management, Brown will continue to improve the user experience for operators by implementing a fleet management software solution that will be packaged with RedHawk Training Aircraft. The technology will be used to power the services side of the RedHawk platform as well as provide fleet operators with analytics, predictive maintenance and business intelligence derived from aircraft data. Anchored in simplicity, the cloud based customer portal will show dashboard level insights into a host of metrics related to aircraft and fleet level operations.

Redhawk with Hartzell 2