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Region II SAFECON Finals

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SDCC Flight Team SAFECON 2011 Regional Championships RESULTS 

SAFECON 2011 is in the history books. The Awards Banquet at the end of the 4-day collegiate flying competition recognizes the efforts of 88 pilots, coaches and advisors. We are grateful to the Mt San Antonio College Dept. of Aviation for hosting this year's competition. Having hosted last year, we can fully appreciate the enormity of hosting and it is always a credit to the organizers who work so hard behind the scenes to make it look easy - when we know it is anything but...

First Place: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (1650 Total enrollment - all Aeronautical Students)
Second Place: Mt. San Antonio College (41,000 total enrollment - 700 Aeronautical Students)
Third Place: San Diego Christian College (500 total enrollment - 35 Aeronautical Students)
Fourth Place: San Jose State University (32,000 total enrollment - 400 (est) Aeronautical Students)
Fifth Place: Cypress College (16,000 total enrollment - no information on Aeronautical numbers)
Guests: U.S. Air Force Academy

Only the top two schools receive invitations to the NIFA National Championships so we will not be going to nationals this year. Since the number of invitations dropped from 3 to 2 this year, the stakes were high - and so was the quality of competition. Nearly all landings from all the schools were "in the box" this year which means there were some very very good landing scores. Top landing pilot for SDCC was Kyle Mayhugh - who has always been one of our most consistent precision landing performers. We understand there are several "tricks" some schools use to increase their score but we don't and sometimes we pay the price in our lower score. Fortunately there are judges and administrators in NIFA who agree these techniques are unsafe and unfair and will seek to have them banned from future competition.

In most of the events, each team is allowed 5 contestants. Some only allow 1 or 2, but the major events allow 5 from each school. Awards are only given to the top 10 in each event, and medals are awarded to the top 5. Certain events and standings are awarded trophies which is kept by the winning team for the year. SDCC won TWO trophies!

In the Navigation event SDCC captured 3 of the top 10 spots. Clayton Hawley and Aaron Varela placed 2nd, Jenna Sims and John Crotts placed 5th, and Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones placed 6th.

Paul Martin placed 3rd overall in the IFR Precision Flight event.

Our best performances were in Message Drop. Although we don't get a chance to practice message drop very much, we spent some time walking through the pattern on the ground and discussing wind theory and dropping techniques. As a result, we won the event and took 4 of the top ten awards. Shon Northcutt and Jackson Judge won first place! John Crotts and Sean Conlan took 3rd place. Frank Razo and Aaron Penney placed 6th. Kyle Mayhugh and Chad Coyle placed 10th.

In the Ground Trainer event - which is done in a stationary aircraft simulator where pilots fly a pattern given to them by the judges just before the competition, Clayton Hawley placed 3rd overall.

In the Simulated Comprehensive Air Navigation (SCAN) event - which is arguably the most difficult test of all, Kyle Mayhugh placed 8th.

In Aircraft Recognition - another event that you have to have a knack for - Kyle Mayhugh placed 8th. I attended the AC-ID event and could only name a handful of the airplanes shown...

In the Aircraft Preflight Inspection event, Aaron Varela took 10th place.

In Computer Accuracy, aka "E6B" event, - one that Embry Riddle typically sweeps - Paul Martin placed 7th. The winner from ERAU made a perfect score which is extremely rare. We understand that some of these schools with hundreds of aviation students to choose from, recruit engineering students - who are not even necessarily even pilots - to enter these events. We think that defies the spirit of aviation competition and some national judges agree. They may be requiring future contestants to be pilots to level the playing field - we'll see.

In Crew Resource Management, Clayton Hawley and Shon Northcutt took 3rd place.

San Diego Christian College received several other awards for which we are very proud:

Jenna Sims won the trophy for "Top Woman Pilot Safety" - she almost couldn't lift the trophy! We're extremely proud of Jenna and her excellent performance this week.

John Crotts and Sean Conlan won the "Team Safety" award for their presentation of SDCC's Safety/Training Program to the judges. The last time SDCC won the Team Safety award, the college was still "Christian Heritage College" - back in 2001! Congratulations to John and Sean for an excellent job!

Sean Conlan was voted by his teammates as the "Outstanding Team Member" to recognize his service above and beyond the call of duty. Sean is always a reflection of Christ's Servant Attitude on our team. He helps his classmates with homework and practice, and is always willing to do whatever he can to help the team -with no expectation of reward or recognition. So we salute Sean Conlan and we're happy to recognize him here.

For the "Top Pilot" award Clayton Hawley was 7th and Jenna Sims was12th out of 68 competitors. Only the top 12 receive points.

Clayton was 8th among all male contestants, followed by Kyle Mayhugh (13), Paul Martin (17), Jackson Judge (20), Sean Conlan (26), Aaron Penney (32), Aaron Varela and Shon Northcutt tied at (33), and Chad Coyle (44). Beyond 44, no points were given.

Jenna was 2nd among all female contestants. Randi Cavalier was 5th but no points were given beyond the top 4.

For all 68 contestants (male and female) the standings were: Clayton Hawley (8), Kyle Mayhugh (14), Jenna Sims (18) and Paul Martin (18) [tied], Sean Conlan (28), Aaron Penney (34), Shon Northcutt (36), and Chad Coyle 48. No points were given for standings below 48th place by a formula NIFA uses for team scoring.

Not so obvious is that some events are weighted greater than others - thus one pilot may win more awards than another, but score lower... For example, the landings and air events produce the more points than ground events. Scoring is pretty much a mystery outside the judges office. We actually have no idea how all those event numbers are mixed in the NIFA programming to produce the scores but we give our volunteer judges enormous credit for their dedication and commitment to making these competitions possible.

So SAFECON comes to a close with a mixture or joy for all we did well, and sadness that we did not measure up to the standard we set for ourselves to win an invitation to the national championships. When you compare the size of our program and the assets (and budgets) some of our competitors have available to them for teaching, training and practicing, it is easier perhaps, to understand that we will always be the underdog.

I want to recognize the excellent leadership and direction of Team Captain Aaron Varela. He has done an outstanding job of organizing, directing, and motivating his team this year. The Leadership team of Paul Martin, John Crotts, Aaron Penney, and Jenna Sims have been a delight to work with and we wish them well. Please congratulate and thank them when you see them on campus for having represented SDCC with a strong Christian testimony, exemplary behavior and competitive excellence.

Denny Breslin
SDCC Director of Aviation and Flight Team Advisor

SAFECON Awards Banquet at Mt San Antonio College.

Flight Team 2011 SAFECON - Note Jenna holding her Women Safety Pilot trophy and John holding the Team Safety Trophy.

Dylan Jones & Kyle Mayhugh 6th NAV.

Kyle Mayhugh - 9th Power Off Landings.

Clayton Hawley & Aaron Varela 2nd NAV.

John Crott & Jenna Sims 5th NAV.

Jenna Sims Top Women Pilot Safety Award.
Jenna Top Women Pilot 

Jackson Judge & Shon Northcutt 1st Message Drop.

John Crotts & Sean Conlan First Place Safety Award.

Aaron Penney and Frank Razo 6th Message Drop.

Kyle Mayhugh & Chad Coyle 10th Message Drop.

Clayton Hawley 8th Overall.

Kyle Mayhugh worked hard to earn his 5 awards!
Kyle wins 5 

Team Captain Aaron Varela 8th Aircraft Recognition - 2nd in Navigation.
Team Captain 

Shon Northcutt & Clayton Hawley 3rd Crew Resource Management.

Paul Martin 3rd IFR Precision Flight and 7th in Computer Accuracy.








SAFECON 2011 Sunday

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SDCC Flight Team Sunday SAFECON 2011 Regional Championships 

Today was the final day of competition for the Region II collegiate flying championships. In many ways it is a relief for it to be over. Long hot days in the sun make the week seem longer than it was. So it was with great anticipation that we began this day. On one hand, the pressure of a 4-day competition is draining and our pilots are tired. On the other hand the last day is a short one and the end is in sight. More importantly however, Message Drop is both a fun event - and can be worth valuable critical points in the overall standings. So it is taken seriously - even though it is so much fun you forget that it is also a valuable part of the competition...

Each team had 5 crews competing in Message Drop, consisting of a Pilot and Dropmaster. There were 6 heats of 5 airplanes with the first one launching just past 9 am after the judges briefing, aircraft preflight and positioning the planes in the "start box." Kyle Mayhugh and Chad Coyle were aircraft #2 in the first heat. As they took off and flew the pattern, the wind was blowing only slightly down the runway. Drift from a height of 200 feet was about 60-70 feet. Kyle and Chad's first box landed about 60 feet long. All the airplanes in the first heat dropped too late and their Message Boxes landed long. SDCC's was closest - for what it's worth.

Frank Razo and Aaron Penney were in the second heat and were also long on their drop. Several team's runs were disqualified for flying too low. One team flew over the field at 50 feet above the ground when they were supposed to be a minimum of 200 feet high. Our pilots tried to fly at 250 feet to make sure they were not DQ'd for flying low. Message Drop runs are flown at 100mph. The slower you go the more time to spot the target and figure when and where to drop.

Jenna Sims and Randi Cavalier were in heat 3 and Shon Northcutt and Jackson Judge were in heat 4. John Crotts and Sean Conlan were in the final heat and their drops were very close.

The day ended with the annual business meeting of all the students. The business meeting gives teams a chance to discuss shortcomings of the event and to plan for the following year. Next year the Region II championships will be at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott Arizona. The dates have not been announced but ERAU said they preferred the November or the February time frame. For them, like us, the January schedule this year caused our pilots to cut short their Christmas break to practice, and to miss the first week of school.

The only thing left are the results. As I write this the team has cleaned up, put on their best dress clothes and headed down to the Awards Banquet. In a few hours we'll know how we did. You should know however that your team kept a humble spirit, competed hard and were a great Christian testimony for their school here at the NIFA championships. An incident happened today when a lady bicyclist - on a ride unrelated to the air meet - smashed into the back of one of our cars out on the perimeter road while watching an airplane fly over and was slightly injured. It was the only incident all week long of any sort to mar an otherwise perfectly safe competition. Thank you for your prayers, your thoughts and for your support!
Stay tuned for the results!

Chad Coyle prepares to drop from 200 feet. Note the concentration!
Chad Cole Drop

Aaron Penney prepares to drop from the Cessna 152. His drop was about 60 feet long.
Aaron Penney Drop

Shon Northcutt and Jackson Judge prepare to fly in heat #4.
Heat No.4

Randi Cavalier prepares to drop. Jenna Sims is the pilot.
Jenna Sims Pilots Drop

Jenna and Randi return from their Message Drop heat.
Message Drop Return

Jenna Sims

John Crotts and Sean Conlan before launching on the final flight for SDCC in
Final Flight

Dominic briefs pilots and dropmasters before starting their engines for the final heat.
Final Heat Preparations

MD briefing - watching the drop from another team. They seem to be enjoying something - what is that? Sean Conlan and John Crott are on the left.
MD Briefing


SAFECON 2011 Saturday

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SDCC Flight Team Saturday SAFECON 2011 Regional Championship

This Saturday morning dawned bright and blue - perfect Southern California weather for "Landings" day at PCIFA SAFECON 2011.

After the judge's briefing, SDCC Flight Team Captain Aaron Varela lined up for takeoff in the Power Off spot landing event. There was a slight quartering tailwind and Aaron's landings were good in the Cessna 152. He was followed in order by Dylan Jones, Shon Northcutt, Kyle Mayhugh and Paul Martin. All SDCC landings were "in the box" - meaning everyone landed in the 300' box chalked out on the runway. Points are deducted for each foot short of the landing line - or beyond the landing line. Although our landings were consistently better than ever, due to the light winds - so too were landings of our competitors. There were more consistently better landings today than we've seen in any regional competition.

Following the Power off landings, there was a short break as pilots were able to mix and meet with recruiters for several airlines. Representatives from Ameriflight were present to talk about upcoming opportunities with their company. At 1pm Aaron Varela taxied out for heat one of Short Field landings, which are similar to Power off spot landings except pilots are allowed to keep power on the airplane longer. Once power is reduced however, it may not be added back. Landings must be full-flap, power off, full stall spot landings on the landing line.

When landings were finished, Jenna Sims and John Crotts flew their Navigation flight. Reports were their times were right on their estimated planned times.

As soon as he landed from his second of two Short Field landings, I whisked Shon Northcutt and Clayton Hawley over to Mt. San Antonio College for the Crew Resource Management event. CRM tests pilot's skills working together as a crew. We teach our pilots how to fly as private, instrument and commercial pilots. We have instituted a class this spring at SDCC that teaches pilots how to work together as a crew. It's more difficult than you think! The scenario had them taking off from KPOC (Brackett Field) in a simulator and flying over to KOXR Oxnard. They were graded on checklist usage, navigation, interfacing with flight attendants and passengers, flying an approach to a "missed approach" or go-around, and diverting to Burbank (KBUR) airport. They did extremely well. You would be proud of them. The extensive de-brief provided by American Airlines pilots Captains Jeff Sheets and Captain Jeff Satterwhite showed that while no one can fly the perfect flight - there was a lot that they did right. However - the same was true for the other 5 schools who flew the same scenario so the results will be interesting.

Tonight at 6pm Paul Martin, Frank Razo, Phillip Dolton, Dylan Jones and Aaron Penney competed in the final ground event at the airport. Using their circular slide-rules also known as the E6B aviation computer, they worked on navigation problems for an hour. First one done with the most right answers wins.

So we have only one event remaining which is probably the most fun of any of the events - the Message Drop. Pilots will be up early Sunday morning for the brief and the first plane will roll at 0900. Message drop consists of one pass over the runway at 200 feet and 100 mph dropping a 3 ounce streamer-box on a target at each end of the runway. The idea is for pilot and dropmaster to calculate wind drift and drop their message box upwind of the target hoping it will drift back down to the target. Judges will measure the distance from the boxes of each school and add the total between the two drops for the score. Believe me, it's harder than it looks!

The nature of the competition means no one knows how they are doing until the results are announced at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday night. Competition is particularly competitive this year because everyone knows only two schools will be invited to the national championships. There is considerable anticipation as we approach the end of this competition. Stay tuned for the results tomorrow!

Molly and Andrianna join Randi Cavalier and Jenna Sims to support the Hawks Flight Team.
Support Team

Captain Aaron Varela getting ready for first Power-off landings heat.
Captain Varela

Dylan Jones prepares for his first heat in Power-off spot landings.
Dylan Jones

Dylan touches down.
Touching Down

Dylan Jones touching down near the line.
Touching Down Line

Randi Cavalier enjoying the landing contest.

Paul Martin Power Off landings.
Power Off Landing

Clayton & Shon with CRM judges Captain Jeff Sheets from DFW, and Captain Jeff Satterwhite from LAX.

Clayton debreifed by CRM judge Captain Jeff Sheets.
Captain Sheets 


SAFECON 2011 Friday

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SDCC Flight Team Friday SAFECON 2011 Regional Championships

Today started out as another perfect day. Sunny, warm - almost too warm in the mid 80's. But all was not well in the skies over the LA Basin as the Navigation teams launched at 10am. A weather trough and strong upper winds picked up from the east at the altitudes the Navigation pilots were flying causing turbulence and excessive drift. A plane from one of the other teams turned around after flying into turbulence so the judges cut off flying competition this afternoon.

So Clayton Hawley and Aaron Varela were the first plane to launch on the NAV route. Their flight was uneventful but the used more fuel than they estimated which deducted points from their score. Nav routes are planned by the judges to cross over 4 lat/long waypoints approximately 20 miles apart. PIC's (pilot in command) has 30 minutes to plot the waypoints, calculate course, distance, time and fuel between each waypoint, and turn their flight plan into the judges. They check the planning over for accuracy and the PIC joins his copilot who preflighted the plane while the PIC was planning. Then they are launched by the judges on their route. Each plane is fitted with a GPS unit by the judges so when the pilots return, the data is downloaded by the judges and compared to pre-flight planning. Pilots are scored by how close their estimated time and fuel use was to actual time and fuel. They are also graded on how close they come to their waypoints.

Later in the morning Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones launched on their route. They flew one of 3 different routes planned by the judges. Kyle said they underestimated their fuel use by about a gallon. Although they did not encounter any severe turbulence, another aircraft airborne on a different route at the same time reported strong turbulence and returned to the airport without finishing their flight. That is when the judges cancelled flying for the balance of the day. Jenna Sims and John Crotts were scheduled to fly but were held on the ramp for several hours before the decision was made to cancel.

As we stood on the ramp - working on our tans - with a sunny, cloudless sky and calm winds, had someone asked us why we were not flying, it sure would have seemed odd to say we can't fly d we're canceled due to "weather"'. But as with all things aviation, we are often affected by what we can't see...

At 3pm we split up. Captain Varela, Clayton, Shon, Kyle and Jenna went back to the hotel to prepare for SCAN. SCAN is "Simulated Comprehensive Air Navigation" test. It is the equivalent of a commercial/instrument exam covering a comprehensive mix of information from regulations, airman's information manual, FAA publications, instrument procedures and a bunch of stuff somebody just comes up with! But seriously, it combines a lot of information to make a difficult test.

After SCAN, they will drive to Chad Coyle's home where his folks are hosting a BBQ for the team.

Tomorrow morning - early - all teams will meet for the Landings briefing. We'll start the day with Power-off spot landings and finish with Short Field spot landings. In Power-off landings, pilots must cut their power abeam the landing spot and fly a "squared" pattern to touch down in the 300' long landing box right on the landing line. Short Field landings differ from Power-off landings in that once pilots reduce power, they may not add power back if they are short - without penalties.

That is all for today. We're sharing part of our day with you in pictures below...

Brackett Control Tower
Control Tower

Waking up sleepy airplanes - red and white plane is SDCC.
Red and White

Flight line and snow in the San Gabriel mountains north of KPOC.
San Gabriel Mountains

Captain Varela and Clayton Hawley complete NAV with Coach Mathew Belden welcoming them back.
Welcome Back

Clayton refuels 91E. Aaron Varela (copilot for NAV) observes. Pilots refuel planes to find out how much fuel was used in NAV route.

Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones refuel after NAV. Flights are graded on how close their actual fuel use was to planned fuel use.
Fuel Usage

SAFECON 2011 - Tuesday and Wednesday

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 SDCC Flight Team Tuesday and Wednesday SAFECON 2011 Regional Championships

We flew 4 planes up to Brackett Field (KPOC) Monday afternoon so our pilots could get plenty of landing practice at the host airport near Pomona CA. Tuesday morning was cloudy and cool but all of our landing pilots got several hours of spot landing practice on the runways which will be used for competition. Like Gillespie Field, there are noise sensitive areas that must be accommodated which also require pilots to adjust their pattern and landing techniques.

Wednesday morning was calm, clear and sunny. Your SDCC Flight Team continued to practice landings, fly Navigation routes and practice ground events. Most of the competing teams arrived early to practice. This year there is added pressure to score high because there are only 2 invitations available to the national championships instead of the normal 3. All the teams know that and the competitive tension has ratcheted up from previous years.

Competition began today with Paul Martin flying the "IFR" event. The IFR (instrument flight rules) pilots plan a route and fly in the air traffic system under instrument rules, flying approaches, holding, etc. with the judge sitting next to them taking notes. Paul thinks he did well but we won't know until the Awards Banquet Sunday night.

Clayton Hawley and Philip Dolton competed in the "Simulator" event. The competitor flies a stationary aircraft simulator along a predetermined timed pattern with climbs, turns, and descents. Accuracy and precision is paramount. Competitors are graded on how close they come to the actual pattern.

John Crotts, Aaron Varela and Clayton Hawley competed in the "Preflight" event where judges "bugged" a Cessna 172 with maintenance faults the pilots were expected to "find" during a normal preflight inspection. If the pilot found 30 out of 30 "bugs," then the pilot who found the most discrepancies in the shortest time - wins.

John Crotts and Sean Conlan competed in the "Safety Interviews" event. Contestants brief judges on the SDCC Safety program and how the Flight Team applies rules, regulations and policies to make our program safe. John said he thought they did very well in the interview which lasted about 45 minutes.

Tonight, Kyle Mayhugh, Philip Dolton, Clayton Hawley, Aaron Varela and Paul Martin competed in the "Aircraft Identification" event where contestants are shown a picture of an aircraft for 3 seconds and are then given 5 seconds to name the plane, manufacturer and airplane number. I can tell you after 40 some odd years in aviation - I could not name half of the planes they showed. Sometimes they would show only the tail of a plane sticking up out of the dust, or a crashed airplane, or an obscure foreign-made fighter or any number of quirky variations of airplanes that make it easy to guess the wrong answer.

We ended the day with a social "BBQ" with guest speaker Steve Hinton, the 23 year old son of famous aviator Steve Hinton (Sr). Young Steve has won the Reno Air Race Unlimited Gold trophy for the past two years despite his young age. His talk was very plain and spoke directly to the competitor's drive to succeed. Granted, his famous father opened a few aviation doors for him, but young Steve was clearly prepared to step into his role in the warbird world and professional air race pilot.

Tomorrow our "Navigation" pilots begin competition, and Saturday is the landing events. If you are going to come observe any of the competition, the landings and message-drop (held Sunday) are by far the best. The weather is beautiful and the Lord has blessed us to come here and compete for our school. The days are long and the pressure is building. Please pray for us! From KPOC in Pomona good night!

Plane captains return from launch.

SDCC Team practices landings.

N5291E awaits pilots.

Clayton Hawley studies NAV.

Downtime includes reading.

SDCC studies for SCAN test.

Opening Briefing.


SDCC Flight Team competes at SAFECON 2011 Region II Championships

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Hosted by Mt. San Antonio College 


Monday January 10, 2011

The 2011 PCIFA SAFECON Airmeet is being held at Brackett Airport (KPOC) January 13, 2011 to January 16, 2011. SDCC pilots left Gillespie Field this afternoon to pre-position for two training days prior to beginning of competition on Thursday morning. Six pilots flew our Cessna 172 (N5291E), a Piper Warrior PA-28 (N40963) and a Cessna 152 for competition, and ferried a Piper Dakota with supplies and team members to KPOC which is near Pomona CA.

PCIFA SAFECON (Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference) is an annual regional aviation competition for colleges and universities in the Western U.S. - Students will compete in five flight events and six academic events. SDCC Flight Team is 17 strong this semester and our pilots have been working very hard, even coming back to school early from semester break to practice.

The top two colleges from the Regional SAFECON will receive an invitation to the National SAFECON hosted by The Ohio State University in May 2011. In years past there have been 3 slots allocated to our region for national championships. SDCC has earned a bid to national's the past two years in a row. With one less slot available, competition will be fierce.

Colleges attending the PCIFA SAFECON include: Mt. San Antonio College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Cypress College, San Diego Christian College, San Jose State University, United States Air Force Academy.

We will be posting pictures, descriptions and accounts of our competition this week – thanks for joining us!

Flight Team 2011

(from left to right)

Front Row: Jackson Judge, Randi Cavalier, Shon Northcutt, Jenna Sims, Frank Razo, Aaron Varela (Team Captain) John Crotts and Kyle Mayhugh

Back Row: Phillip Dolton, Aaron Penney, Paul Martin, Sean Conlan, Dylan Jones, Stephen Henry, Clayton Hawley, Denny Breslin (Team Coach/Advisor) Not pictured: Ryan Wagner


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