Mourning the Loss of an Innovator

Charlie Schneider poured a lot of innovative thinking into MyGoFlight, including the heads-up display for light general aviation aircraft.

Charles Schneider was on board a Cirrus SR22 that went out of control on approach in Tennessee on December 16. [Screengrab from]

The general aviation family is a close-knit one, for a lot of reasons. 

Because those who develop new technology for light aircraft often do so out of passion, it follows that they involve their own families in the effort—and by doing so enhance the congenial spirit we find at trade shows and fly-ins, all the way up to high-level board meetings. 

Charles Schneider, CEO of MyGoFlight, personified a lot of the reasons why we feel the way we do about GA. While demonstrating his latest innovation—whether at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention or EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh—Schneider introduced us to the family within his company, as well as his wife Tracey, and his children, who all pitched in to help bring new technology such as the SkyDisplay heads-up display (HUD) to the market.

So, it’s with a significant sense of loss that we reported on the accident that killed Schneider on December 16. The aircraft with Schneider and one other person on board went down on approach around 10:30 am E.T. at the McGhee-Tyson Airport (KTYS) in Alcoa, Tennessee.

He’d outfitted his 2007 Cirrus SR22 GTS G3 Turbo with the SkyDisplay for flight testing and demonstration. MyGoFlight had developed and gained DO-160 certification on the heart of its HUD, the AID (aircraft interface device), a rugged, off-the-shelf computer system that can read ARINC 429, RS232 serial data, analog data, and analog and digital video inputs. The AID comes with mini PCIe card slots to support add-on I/O module integration.

The other primary component of the SkyDisplay is the HUD projection unit. Weighing one pound, its LCD incorporates an LED backlight with 480 by 240 resolution and a custom flight deck mount.

When we last connected over the summer on its progress, Schneider had talked of success installing the unit into firefighting aircraft in Colorado, for the wildfire season. Pre-orders had been taken for installation into the Pilatus PPC-12, and in Cessna Citation CJ-series jets.

It’s not clear yet what happened that led to the accident at KTYS, but we’ll provide analysis when it does. The aviation family will want to learn any lessons we can from it.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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