Flight Sim Solution
Upon entering the fabrication department the team finds two flight instructors standing by the briefing rooms. Upon walking up to the flight instructor they are given flight packets and approximately the following instructions.
"Hello and welcome to the fabrication department. I'm here to instruct you on the use of your flight packets, the briefing rooms, and the flight lab. Here are your packets, and let me show you to the briefing room."
Instructor shows them to the briefing room.
"Examine your packets and when you are ready knock on the door and I'll show you to the flight lab where you can complete the next step of your mission."
Flight Board – In the briefing room is a large flight board marked with stickers that have numbers and directions associated with them. There is a legend and a caption. The caption reads "Follow the Cardinal Rules". The legend contains information for each colored dot and what it represents.
Caption: The above flight board is used in the final solve and is not solvable online.
Flight Plans – In the packet are flight plans. They contain a series of numbers and directional symbols. This portion of the puzzle is solvable online so here are copies of each flight plan. Solutions are available below.
Flight Overlays – You are also given a series of overlays. These have waypoints imprinted on them. This can be combined with the actual flights in order to collect some additional data needed to solve for the final clue.
Flight Plans – The flight plans are a modified arithmetic square. You have to map the directional symbols to mathematical operators. Completing the square is not important as long as you are sure your direction to operator mapping is correct for the later portions of the puzzle.
The mathematical operators used were addition, subtraction, multiplication, and modulus. In many cases division works for modulus, but not in all so the teams have to realize that division is not a suitable operator fairly early.
Transparencies – During the flights in the lab the waypoints on the compass will point you to some of the dots on the transparencies. There is one flight on the machine per transparency and once you've completed all four you'll have a vector map with a start point and end point ready to be used for the last portion of the puzzle.
Some teams were also able to map the transparencies to the flight board without the flights though all teams appear to have used the flights to verify this even if they did find the shortcut.
Flight Board – The flight board requires you use a transparency start point for a given flight and map it to a departure point. The end point should line up with one of the layover waypoints. At the layover waypoint a second transparency has to be selected which will terminate at an arrival waypoint. This second transparency has to be selected by the team based on it matching an actual flight path through the board.
This has to be done for six full flights. As the overlays map the team writes down the numbers and directions from each waypoint along the way. This will then form a long arithmetic sequence to be used with the operators from the flight plans.
The trick for the larger equations is that the operators switch at the waypoints to use the second transparency so you don't use a single set of operators for the entire path. Once solved these equations write out a set of numbers that then 1-index into the alphabet. All numbers were less than 26 so the modulus had already been done rather than allowing the team to do further modulus to reduce to letters.
So in the end you have 6 numbers forming the final clue and the anagram for putting them in the correct order is based on their left to right arrival position on the map. Some used departure and then did a brute force. Unfortunately the letters also formed a second clue word which was invalid.
Putting the letters together one arrives at SNAKES. If the team didn't realize the arrival waypoint ordering they could anagram to SNEAKS or maybe even a few other possibilities. For the purpose of this puzzle having a plane theme, it becomes fairly obvious that even if you use an anagram solver that SNAKES is the correct result.
In addition the flight instructor hands the team a can of Lysol on the way out with a quick hint, "This may come in useful along the way". Along the way generally means spraying their stinky team-mates and keeping the van smelling good throughout the two day event.