Testing of a flight data transmitter called Sidekick developed by Redbird Flight Simulations begins in October, but visitors to EAA AirVenture 2015 will get a demonstration every time Michael Goulian gives an airshow performance. Sidekick is a transmitter that is tossed in the back of the airplane (secured rather well in Goulian’s case) that can inform flight schools of training flights as they happen. The technology is similar to data transmitted from NASCAR racers during a race. AirVenture attendees will see what could be some very interesting G readings on Jumbotrons at Oshkosh: Data from Goulian’s performance in his Extra 330 will be streamed onto screens on the flight line to show the audience what the flight is like from his perspective.
“Sidekick can sense and report data well beyond the usual GPS coordinates, including who is flying the airplane, what airplane the unit is currently flying in, what time the engine started and shutdown, rpms, maneuvers flown, number of landings, stresses on the airframe, g-forces on landing, and a wide variety of other things,” Redbird explained in a press release. “Data transmitted to the database can then be used to automate the record keeping for students, aircraft logs, and even invoicing.”
The $700 unit contains an attitude heading reference system and can even grade maneuvers performed by the student. The pilot just needs to ask Sidekick to grade a maneuver immediately after it is performed, and then he or she will get a rating on the maneuver from a computer-generated voice.
Sidekick is already generating buzz at AirVenture. According to Redbird, ATP Flight School has already ordered 300 of the units.
“We got very interested in this project because of Sidekick’s potential to deliver vital data we simply couldn’t gather up until now,” said Bob Hepp, owner of Aviation Adventures, in a press release. “Sidekick, if successful, represents a truly valuable new tool for us and our customers.” Hepp will test the device at his four Virginia flight schools starting in October.