Hundreds of thousands of virtual aviators will take to the skies over a weekend in September, in what’s being dubbed the flight sim event of the decade.
Flight Angels 2016 will be broadcast live around the world. A dedicated online stream will show 30 hours of flights, interviews, chats and special events, including the chance to sit in the co-pilot seat of Concorde and fly a combat mission in an F16 with US Air Force Gulf War veteran Colonel Doug ‘Bubbles’ Champagne.
The charity ‘telethon’ from September 16-18 is the brainchild of flight sim software developer and aviation journalist Jane Rachel Whittaker, and online aviation guru and flight simmer Pete Wright, aka Frooglesim. Flight Angels will be raising funds for three charities in the UK and USA: Over the Wall, SeriousFun Children’s Network and Vision of Flight. Over the Wall and SeriousFun offer help and support to children with serious illnesses and their families across the world. Vision of Flight is dedicated to offering young people, often from underprivileged backgrounds, into a career in aviation.
The number of flight sim enthusiasts globally tops ten million and the organisers are inviting them to join in one or all of the 20+ legs being flown. But they’re also hoping the chance to ‘fly’ with one the USA’s most decorated fighter pilots, or experience Concorde from the flight deck, will entice anyone with an interest in flying to sign up and support the charity effort.
Kevin Mathieson is CEO of Over the Wall in the UK, and has been a driving force in getting the event cleared for take-off. The former senior police officer began working for the charity as a volunteer after retiring as Chief Constable of Tayside Police. His involvement snowballed from there and he took over at the helm in 2011. He believes Flight Angels will offer all three charities the chance to expand they work they do with young people:
“When I first got chatting to Jane Rachel Whittaker, and subsequently Pete, they told me about an online event they had run a few years back which raised $50,000 for charity. We continued to talk and realised there was potential to repeat it, but on a much larger scale.”
“I was amazed at the number of ‘flight simmers’ there are, with entire communities dedicated to both flying and air traffic control. And it’s not just virtual pilots: the simulation software is used by commercial pilots who use it as refresher training for different aircraft and destinations.”
Kevin continued: “Equally I saw the potential to attract people who simply love to fly, or are curious about what it takes to pilot millions of dollars worth of aircraft, to log on and donate a few pounds or dollars for what is a unique aviation opportunity.”
Jane Rachel Whittaker is a veteran of the flight sim world who’s been designing software packages for decades. She’s excited about the opportunity to raise funds for the charities and bring the online flight sim community together in this unique way. “We will be streaming the whole event live, and I am sure the flight sim community will get on board. I am equally as excited about the chance to give the many millions of people who have an interest in aircraft – how they operate and the skills needed to take-off and land – a chance to look ‘behind-the-scenes’. “The fact that we have Concorde pilots and, in Colonel Doug Champagne, a decorated US war hero taking part makes it all the more unique.”
For more information about the event click here