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Lightspeed Aviation presents

Wild Blue Doodle Contest

Check out the winners and the stories behind the doodles

Lightspeed's Wild Blue Doodle contest has given pilots a chance to use CloudAhoy's flight tracking visualization features to create incredible works of art in the sky.


Learn how the Wild Blue Doodle winners did it at the "Honing your flying skills through aerial artistry" webinar:


Meet the winners:

Brian Danza, Arlington, Virginia
1st place winner with "DA40 in a DA40"
Brian will receive a new Lightspeed Zulu 3 headset and a complimentary annual subscription to CloudAhoy!


Brian has always been, in his words, a "huge aviation nerd," developing a passion for airplanes on TWA 747-100's flying from Milan to JFK in the 80s and 90s. This led him to his private pilots license 1998. Brian took a break from flying after moving to Washington DC in 2003, but has picked it up quite a bit over the last few years, flying both for work and for pleasure. He earned his instrument rating in 2016, which has completely revolutionized his flying, making it more precise and safer, while allowing him to fly for work a lot more often.


Brian would like to work through his commercial ticket this in the coming months and possibly buy a plane by the end of spring. He currently rents myriad planes from C172s to SR22s and obviously the DA40 from Aviation Adventures (a Lightspeed dealer) in Leesburg and Manassas.


View Brian's Doodle story video

Chad Davis, Demopolis, Alabama
2nd place winner with the 2nd and 3rd highest scoring entries, "Let's Play" and "Running Cheetah"
Because Chad had two entries in the top three, he will also receive a new Lightspeed Zulu 3 headset and a complimentary annual subscription to CloudAhoy!


Chad has always been fascinated with flying, but didn't have the chance to fly until recently. With kids in college and a supportive wife, he finally pursued and received his PPL. He loves flying and this year flew solo from Alabama to Oshkosh, camping under his wing the entire week.


Chad's aircraft is a Cessna 172B, which he notes is "nothing fancy for sure, but she is a good flying machine." Chad explains his cockpit: "I have a Garmin Aera510 connected to a GDL-39. I run Garmin Pilot and other apps on an Asus tablet mounted on my yoke. I track all my flights for CloudAhoy using an iPhone5, but I also have a couple Android phones that I use with various apps. In the end, I have this old 1961 airplane with several devices magnetically mounted in various places. My buddies make fun of me for sure, but it works for me!"


Read Chad's Doodle story


Bill Lindeman, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
3rd place winner with "F-15"

Bill will receive a new Gann leather flight bag from Lightspeed's exclusive Adventure Flight Bag Collection and a complimentary annual subscription to CloudAhoy!


Bill's father started him flying back in 1994. He went to a flight school at Midway Airport in Chicago. He holds a PPL and recently purchased a Cessna 140, which he flies every chance he gets. He also flies a Cessna 172 and Cessna 182 for the Civil Air Patrol. He is soon to be wed to "a lovely gal from Wichita, Kansas."


Read Bill's Doodle story

Special thank you to judges for investing their time and expertise: Heidi Rex, Josh Flowers, James Keane

See the doodle stories:

Winning doodle Brian Danza's Doodle story
Brian made a video about making his doodle. You can watch it here.
Brian Danza's doodle story (video)

Sneaker doodleRunning Cheetah doodle Chad Davis's Doodle story
I get a lot of promotional e-mails, and like everyone else, I typically delete them. But then I saw one from CloudAhoy that caught my attention and I saved it... An aviation contest to fly and record a pattern in the sky to possibly win a great Lightspeed headset. That sounds cool, count me in!!!!


I track every one of my flights with CloudAhoy and with the competition in mind I contemplated how I could "draw" something in the sky. I started thinking about the apps that I use and remembered that the free Avare app allows me to write notes on the screen. I played with it a little and realized if I could draw a picture on the screen, I could just follow my 'artwork' on the screen with my flight path. I would have to depend on the GPS in the Asus tablet because Garmin's proprietary stuff doesn't talk to other apps, but the internal GPS seems to work okay. I then searched the internet for pictures and tried to find something I could draw. I looked for something with turns I could follow and I found several pictures I liked. Now my dilemma was figuring out how to get them to the Avare app on my tablet. I tried to draw them free hand, but I learned quickly that I stink at that. A friend recommended using tracing paper. So I went to Wal-Mart and bought some tracing paper. I first traced the image off my desktop computer screen to the tracing paper. I then used a stylus and traced the picture onto my Avare app. It took more times than you can imagine to get something that would work but I was eventually successful. I learned a lot about the tablet and the app... more than I care to share!


Finally, with an image in the Avare app on my Asus tablet, I was ready to fly. The first flight I flew was the "Running Cheetah." I left KDYA and set up for the flight. The tablet GPS was tracking nicely so I figured this might just work. I waited and started the CloudAhoy app at the beginning of the picture. I started it on my iPhone and on an Android phone as a backup. I tracked it on two phones because I would hate to have flown the flight and then learn I did something silly and didn't record it! There was a good bit of turbulence and it was a little challenging to stay perfectly on course. But overall, the flight went well and surprisingly when I looked the result on CloudAhoy, it looked pretty good!


My next flight was "Butterfly." To avoid rough air, I started the flight late in the evening and flew most of it at night. As expected, the air was a lot smoother and my track was easier to follow. This picture also turned out pretty good.


As I was explaining the competition to my brother-in-law and what all I was doing, he just kinda looked at me funny and asked "With all this fuel you are burning, why don't you just go buy a new Lightspeed headset? And then you wouldn't have to do all this flying." Good question. However, this is fun and I love flying! I am going to be flying anyways, so why not fly with a purpose?


I then decided to try a more complex flight and settled on the "Let's Play" hi-top sneaker image. With this image finally transferred to my tablet, I began a late evening flight. During preflight, I had estimated the flight would take 1.5 to 2 hours. I had enough fuel to fly about 3 hours, so I figured I was good to go. However, as I was making the flight, I kept watching my fuel gauges. I was almost watching them as much as I was looking at my tablet. Since I was flying at night, I needed a 45min reserve. It was going to be close. Halfway through the flight I decided the risk wasn't worth it and headed back to KDYA. The next time I tried this flight I ensured I had full tanks. The total flight ended up lasting right at 3 hours. There is no way I would have made it on the first attempt! As far as challenges during the flight, the steep turns in the shoelace section were fairly challenging. I had never performed steep turns at night so that was definitely a learning experience. Another challenge was the wind. If you review the flight you can see there was a 40mph cross wind that I had to deal with. Even though the air was smooth, the significant wind required a lot of crabbing to stay on the various courses and turns. Since my flight wasn't being tracked visibly on my tablet screen, I didn't know what the final result looked like until after the flight. While pulling up the result on CloudAhoy, I had anticipation like opening up a Christmas present! I was pleased with the results.


This competition has been super fun. I may not physically win anything (I really need a new headset though) but I have really enjoyed the process. In addition, I have learned a lot. I have improved my piloting skills, practiced risk management, and learned more about the electronic tools in my cockpit. I am a better pilot because of it. So in actuality, I guess I'm a winner either way!


Thanks so much to CloudAhoy for teaming up with Lightspeed and putting this contest on!

F15 and star doodle Bill Lindeman's Doodle story
Thank you for facilitating the Wild Blue Doodle Contest. I have had fun planning and flying the doodles. Besides having fun it has improved my seat of the pants flying skills with all the turns required to make these doodles. I wanted to focus on a patriotic theme so I choose to do "Stars and Stripes," "1776," and then "Old Glory!" Each flight is meant to build up in complexity and difficulty.


I planned the flight by first coming up with a doodle and then drawing it out on a sectional chart. I picked a low traffic area for my flights. The biggest challenges I found were compensating for winds aloft and turbulence. I have been flying my Cessna 140 to complete the flights, which is very much affected by turbulence and makes holding precise altitudes and headings a tough task at times. But I am thankful for the challenge because I know it is improving my flying skills. The toughest part of the flights has been making the stars, which require precise turns with little room for error. During the last flight I took, I was dealing with 30-40 knot winds aloft which really made the stars a challenge and the first few did not come out exactly the way I wanted them to.

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