Welcome back to FLYING’s detailed dive into SAFECON 2023. Fasten your seat belts for “Episode 5: The Flight Competition,” a true test of precision, teamwork, and navigation in the heart of the skies.
Our first waypoint is the Navigation Event. This challenge sets the stage for a cross-country journey spanning between 70 nm and 120 nm over a three-to-five-leg course. Contestants are tasked with creating a meticulous flight plan, including estimations of en-route time for each leg, total elapsed time, and anticipated fuel consumption. The contestant with the least penalties takes home the accolades, epitomizing the key piloting skills of planning, time management, and fuel economy.
Next up, we taxi into the Short-field Landing Event. This contest is designed to gauge each pilot’s aircraft control finesse. After a standard traffic pattern departure, the goal is to touch down as close to the target line as possible, with the added restriction of being unable to increase power once it’s reduced. The pilot’s score is calculated from the distance in feet between the target line and where the wheels make their first contact with the runway. The pilot with the lowest cumulative total, including any technique penalties from two landings, wins.
Our journey continues with the Power Off Landing Event. This is a sibling to the Short-field Event but with an added twist. Here, the power must be cut to idle on the downwind leg once abeam the target line, testing the pilot’s ability to glide and maneuver the aircraft for the remainder of the traffic pattern and hopefully land precisely on the target line.
Finally, we dive into the thrilling Message Drop Event. Here, the objective is to hit a ground target with a message container released from 200 feet in the air. This event necessitates flawless coordination between the pilot and drop master, as they maneuver the aircraft to align the container drops with the target. The contestant achieving the lowest total distance from the two targets takes home the trophy.
So, prepare for a head-spinning journey into the realm of university-level aviation in “Episode 5: The Flight Competition.” The captivating world of SAFECON 2023 is unfolding, and we’re ecstatic to guide you through the thrilling twists and turns. Get set for Episode 6!
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on flyingmag.com.