'Best and Brightest' submitting entries for EAA Founder's Innovation Prize Competition

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The first entries to this competition, which welcomes concepts to reduce loss-of-control accidents in aviation, began arriving this month. The judging panel, consisting of renowned personalities from the aviation and aerospace world, will make its final selection for the cash prizes next summer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016.

Former NASA space shuttle commander Charlie Precourt is one of the judges for the EAA Founder's Innovation Prize

This competition has sparked some original thinking, including ideas we believed existed but were simply seeking an outlet to be considered. We invite all innovators to bring their concepts to the competition in the coming months.

Entries are now being accepted for the Experimental Aircraft Association Founder’s Innovation Prize, welcoming innovators and their ideas to reduce loss-of-control accidents in custom-built aircraft. The competition, first announced at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, officially began accepting entries on October 1, 2015.

The competition will use the best ideas from EAA members and chapters, as well as the public, with the encouragement of cash prizes for the best emerging technology. The annual prize will have a specific safety focus each year, with the upcoming year’s goal emphasizing the design and development of a low-cost solution that recognizes imminent loss of control (LOC) in aircraft and provides an innovative way of increasing situational awareness or automation to the pilot.

“We’re already receiving entries from some of the best and brightest in the aviation community, and even outside the aviation world,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety, who is coordinating the contest. “This competition has sparked some original thinking, including ideas we believed existed but were simply seeking an outlet to be considered. We invite all innovators to bring their concepts to the competition in the coming months.”

The competition’s judging criteria and timeline is also innovative. Entrants will focus on cost, ease of installation, simplicity, wide applicability, and effectiveness in reducing loss-of-control occurrences. The top five entries will be invited to a presentation at EAA AirVenture 2016, where judges will review and critique the five innovations in a live, “Shark Tank”-style program. The best concept will receive a $25,000 cash prize, with second place receiving $10,000 and third $5,000.

The five-person panel of judges is led by Burt Rutan, the legendary aircraft and spacecraft designer known for such concepts as SpaceShipOne and Voyager. Joining him on the panels are former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander Charlie Precourt; Van’s Aircraft founder Dick VanGrunsven; renowned test pilot and aircraft racer Dave Morss; and Rod Machado, one of the nation’s best-known flight instructors and the voice of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator software.

“It’s quite an honor for me to be asked to participate in judging this year’s Founder’s Innovation Prize,” Machado said. “I’ve been a flight instructor for over 42 years and most of my flight time was earned teaching others how to fly, one lesson at a time. Having authored six books, many articles, videos and audio programs, I like to think that I’ve developed a good sense about what pilots want as well as what they need to keep them safe in an airplane. And they do need something—be it tool, technique or teaching philosophy—to help prevent loss of control accidents. This year’s Foundation Innovation Prize will help aviation make one big gigantic step toward achieving that goal.”

More information and registration materials are available at http://www.EAA.org/Prize.

About EAA
EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 190,000 members and 1,000 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to http://www.eaa.org. For continual news updates, connect with http://www.twitter.com/EAA.

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Dick Knapinski
EAA - The Spirit of Aviation
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