EAA Awards Inaugural Founder’s Innovation Prize to ‘Airball’ Creator

New type of flight data presentation aims to eliminate loss of control accidents.

EAA Innovation Prize
Ihab Awad is awarded first prize by EAA for his "Airball" flight display concept.Stephen Pope

EAA awarded the inaugural Founder’s Innovation Prize to Ihab Awad of San Jose, California for his unusual “Airball” flight display. The concept combines air data from multiple sensors and presents a blue ball to the pilot that moves and changes size as airspeed, angle of attack and yaw change. Keeping the ball the right size and in the right place ensures the airplane is well outside any flight regime that might result in a loss-of-control accident.

Awad received a $25,000 grand prize after the five contest finalists pitched their ideas about how to reduce loss of control accidents. They presented their concept to an EAA judging panel at the Theater in the Woods on Tuesday night that was made up of EAA Safety Committee Chairman Charlie Precourt, Van’s Aircraft founder Dick VanGrunsven, aviation educator and author Rod Machado, test pilot and air racer Dave Morss, and airshow star Michael Goulian.

Third place included a $5,000 cash prize and was awarded to Andrew Skow from Tehachapi, California, for his idea, “Energy State Awareness Display.” Second place’s $10,000 cash prize went to Grant Sprunger from Boulder, Colorado, for his project, “Precise Pilot.”

EAA says 2016’s prize is the first of what will be an annual contest.