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Results from SAFECON 2011 Columbus OH

SDCC pilots return home safe from 2200 mile trip to SAFECON in Columbus... 

2011 NIFA Flight Home 

SDCC Flight Team returned home today after 2 full weeks away. 

We are thankful to be home safe and sound. You really appreciate California weather if you've spent two weeks flying in everyone else's weather!

Here are the results from the week of competition:

SDCC scored 22nd out of 28 colleges. In 2010 we were 24th of 28. In 2009 we were 23rd.

Navigation (1 Round – 2 rounds were cancelled due to weather)

  • 19th Clayton Hawley (Pilot) Aaron Varela (Observer) 

Power-Off Landings (5 competitors)

  • 53rd Shon Northcutt
  • 113th Aaron Varela
  • 119th Dylan Jones
  • DQ Paul Martin
  • DQ Kyle Mayhugh 

Short Field Landings (5 competitors)

  • 32nd Jenna Sims
  • 57th Dylan Jones
  • 76th Paul Martin
  • 117th Kyle Mayhugh
  • 122nd Aaron Varela

Message Drop ( 2 rounds) 

  • 16th Dylan Jones (drop master) Kyle Mayhugh (Pilot)
  • DQ Aaron Penney (drop master) Frank Razo (Pilot)

Computer Accuracy (E6-B- 5 competitors) 

  • 27th Paul Martin
  • 79th Aaron Penney
  • 120th Dylan Jones
  • 129th Frank Razo
  • 135th John Crotts

Aircraft Recognition (A/C ID - 5 competitors) 

  • 61st Kyle Mayhugh
  • 68th Aaron Varela
  • 82nd Paul Martin
  • 108th Clayton Hawley
  • 132nd Dylan Jones

Ground Trainer - (Simulator patterns – 2 competitors) 

  • 30th Clayton Hawley
  • 42nd Paul Martin
2011 Simulator Patterns

Crew Resource Management (1 competition team of two pilots) 

  • DQ – Clayton Hawly (Pilot) Shon Northcutt (First Officer)

IFR Simulated Flight (Instrument Flight) - one competitor per team 

  • 8th Paul Martin (our best showing)

Simulated Comprehensive Air Navigation Exam (5 competitors) 

  • 86th Shon Northcutt 
  • 88th Clayton Hawley
  • 93rd Kyle Mayhugh
  • 109th Aaron Varela
  • 117th Jenna Sims

Preflight Event (2 competitors) 

  • 30th Aaron Varela
  • 33rd John Crotts

Outstanding Team Member (voted by his teammates) 

  • Dylan Jones

Top Male Pilot Order 

  • 74th Paul Martin
  • 115th Dylan Jones
  • 122nd Clayton Hawley


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Update on Flight Team Travel Home

Tuesday did not quite go as planned.

We left under cloudy skies but thankfully no thunderstorms in the DFW area. We heard later there were tornado sirens, strong thunder and lightning storms and pounding hail. So many American Airlines airplanes were damaged by hail – second day in a row – that the DFW airport may be out of service today, Wednesday. Whew!

However with strong headwinds topping 60 knots (67mph) at times, strong mountain wave air movement and in some cases severe turbulence, our progress West was slow and painful.

All the planes except mine stopped for fuel. I arrived at Dona Ana airport (near Las Cruces NM) first and landed in gusty crosswinds. When all our planes were on the ground we cancelled the remaining flights, tied the airplanes down and went to (another) hotel. Dust storms were predicted for later in the afternoon.

In all it has been a draining, but rewarding experience for our pilots. They encountered conditions on this trip that they would never be faced with in a training environment and they handled it beautifully. With everyone tired and pretty much beat up from four and a half hours of turbulence, we felt it far safer to ground the planes, get some rest and start out Wednesday morning with calmer winds.

Lord willing, with lighter winds we will be home today (Wednesday)!


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Monday 24 - Travel 

We were unable to update you on the trip home for the past couple days because frankly we were way too busy trying to get home! 

Sunday morning 5 planes departed Ohio State University for refueling stops in Metropolis IL and Branson MO. From there 3 planes intended to fly direct to Grand Prairie airport near DFW and 2 were to stop in Paris Texas for fuel. As we worked our way south and west in 45 knot headwinds, clouds and rain, the storms thickened in the DFW Metroplex.

Paul Martin and I stopped in Paris but as we finished fueling the wind and rain began. We decided to spend the night. The day had been very long and the 1.5 hour flight to Grand Prairie would have been too dangerous given the thunder and lightning just over the horizon.

Mat Belden, Dylan Jones and Kyle Mayhugh were closer to Dallas. Mat made it to Grand Prairie from the east side but Dylan and Kyle, who were 30 minutes behind Mat diverted to Perrin Texas due to weather. So at the end of the day we had 5 airplanes at 3 different airports!

Next morning we were able to land at KGPM (Grand Prairie) just ahead of another storm that passed over DFW and damaged 27 American Airlines jets with hail. Our planes were safe.

The plan was to spend part of the day touring the American Airlines Flight Academy where American trains it's airline pilots. As it turned out, the building weather allowed us to decide early to cancel plans to fly Monday and take advantage of the opportunity to tour American's facilities. Thanks to Captain John Hale, AA's Vice President of Flight, for making a 4-hour simulator block available to us so each student could fly the new $30 million dollar full motion B-737 simulator for 30 minutes. They went into the sim with instructor Rick Padgett in groups of 3 and each were allowed to fly several approaches from the captain's seat. They took off from San Jose, made a left turn and flew an ILS approach to San Francisco airport. They did one with no clouds and another with weather obscuring the airport with the HUD or "Head's Up Display." Hey, jets are easy to fly eh?

Of all that has been said and done over the past two weeks – nothing can compare with the experience the team enjoyed today.

While one group was in the simulator, others were able to watch flight attendants practicing drills in the emergency evacuation simulators. After lunch they got an opportunity that few – very few – people ever see: Systems Operations Control. SOC is the heartbeat of American Airlines. The team was taken to the AA "War Room" or situation room overlooking SOC and looked down on a giant room full of planners, dispatchers, crew schedulers, weather forecasters, equipment schedulers, and maintenance schedulers to name a few. Each of American's 3600 daily flights is individually scheduled, dispatched, and continuously tracked by one or a team of dispatchers. While we were in SOC a storm passed over DFW damaging 27 airplanes and stacking 50 airplanes on the ramp. We saw how American puts the pieces back together when a storm disrupts the operations in a major hub.

"Off schedule operations" may seem chaotic to passengers on hundreds of flights during a storm, and to some extent, it is. But only by seeing these professional experts reconstruct and reschedule the planes and the crews to get them all where they are going at the end of the day, can you really appreciate how difficult and complex it is.

The final treat Monday was a visit to the pilot's union headquarters. As an American pilot for over 30 years, I spent 6 years as the pilot representative for the Los Angeles domicile and sat on the board of directors for 3 terms. I also spent 4 years as the National Communications Committee chairman. The purpose of the visit to the union was to show the labor side of commercial flying. Pilot careers are molded by contracts negotiated by a union's collective bargaining agreement. Captain Dave Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association took time out to talk to the team about how he became an airline pilot and the prospects for future employment our young pilots will enjoy.

What started as a busy day gathering planes from airports across the Metroplex, ended with a BBQ dinner and the gracious hospitality of AA Captain Mark Chapman and his wife Karen. Their offer to house and feed the team was truly above and beyond our expectations. The Chapmans offered to transport and accompany the team all day long and as it turns out – all night long. I'd like to thank and acknowledge them and my good friend Captain Jeff Sheets who also helped transport and entertain our pilots as they toured the Flight Academy. Thanks so much to you folks for helping to make our stay in DFW an incredible experience!

SDCC Flight Team flying back to San Diego slowed by storms...

Frank Razo tying the Piper down ahead of a strong storm  Dylan Jones taxi’s to parking after instrument approach to Grand Prairie  Mat Belden, Jenna Sims and Frank Razo in front of American Airlines B-737 simulator at the AA Flight Academy in Fort Worth 

 One of the banks of $30 million dollar simulators at American Airlines  Each Flight Team member got to fly the B-737 sim for 30 minutes including several approaches and landings   

    SDCC Flight Team visits headquarters of Allied Pilots Association - the pilot union for American Airlines pilots  Flight Team listens to Captain Dave Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association 

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 Sunday May 23 - Travel

SATELLITE/RADAR IMAGE OF HUGE STORM SYSTEM Sunday NIGHTThe awards banquet Saturday night showed SDCC improved over last year. We were 22nd overall in the standings. Paul Martin was 8th in IFR (instrument) Flying Event.. Jenna Sims was our best lander and we took 16th in the Message Drop event shortened by weather.

When I have a chance I'll post more results. Right now the SDCC Flight Team is working back to San Diego amidst storms and strong – 50 knot – headwinds.

Sunday night the team was split up on arrival into Texas. Two aircraft stopping for fuel in Paris Texas tied down and spent the night.

Two aircraft flying the arrival in to Grand Prairie Airport diverted to Perrin Texas – 50 miles east of DFW.

One aircraft made it to GPM just ahead of a huge lightning and thunderstorm.

Monday the weather looks better. Our plan is to launch at 0700 to GPM (Grand Prairie – 10 miles south of DFW), regroup, and tour the American Airlines Flight Academy. We are scheduled to fly the Boeing 737 simulators later in the morning.

If the plan holds up and weather cooperates, we will take off for El Paso later Monday afternoon.

However we have discovered that the weather is no respecter of schedules or planning so we'll continue to ask for prayer for safety and good weather.

I'll update when I get some time but for now, our time is compressed by weather and flying. 


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 Final Day: SAFECON 2011 Columbus, OH

Today – miraculously – dawned clear and calm. A light radiation fog layer hugged the ground but the sun was shining strong and the air was magnificent for the final day of competition.

The only event on the agenda was the final round – round 5 – of the short-field power-on landings. 3 rounds of message drop were cancelled and 2 rounds of visual navigation were cancelled due to weather and time. It is unfortunate that not everyone was able to fly and not all the events were completed but such it is when you can't control the weather.

Jenna Sims was our only pilot to fly. The event brief was at 0730 and Jenna took off around 0930. Her landings were magnificent. Just before her heat the tower changed runways to land to the east. All previous landings were done to the west on runway 27R. But the switch did not affect her accuracy. We won't know the scores until after the awards banquet but we were very happy with her scores.

With the final landing in Heat 35 of round 5 – SAFECON officially came to a close.

The next communique will list the standings of our pilots as announced at the awards ceremony.

Our plan is to depart early Sunday morning for Dallas then leave Monday at noon for El Paso. We will depart Tuesday morning for San Diego and be home at SDCC by mid day –weather permitting. It is a long, hard haul against the wind flying home. Please pray for our physical endurance, for mechanical integrity of our airplanes, and especially for benign weather enroute.

Thanks to all who have followed our journey along the way. Check previous posts for information on how you can follow our progress home on 



SUNRISE COLUMBUS - First time anyone has seen the sunrise in 10 days. Poetic justice for final day of competition  Landing judges line the runway for 300 feet. They raise their hands as the plane passes by with both wheels on the ground for distance measuring.  Jenna Sims holds short for takeoff in Heat 33 Round 5. Final round of Short-field, power on landings
   Close up view of Jenna on the takeoff roll. Note the concentration through those pink sunglasses!  Jenna touches down just short of the ZERO line. The long white line that crosses the entire width of the runway. We think her distance score was very good 

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SAFECON 2011 - DAY 9

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 Friday - Day 9 SAFECON 2011 Ohio State University

Within a few hours as the visibility improved, it was decided to fly two rounds of the Message Drop event.

Aaron Penney and Frank Razo, who had done so well at Regionals took off first in heat 6. Their drops were close, but not as close as some others. We won't know the results until Saturday night. Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones flew in round 2. Their drops were slightly closer. In the pictures accompanying this blog, you can see both "dropmasters" leaning out of the window with their message boxes and a 3-foot streamer attached so judges can see the box falling. The pilot flies the airplane along the wind line at the direction of the dropmaster, and the box is dropped up-wind of the target in order to drift back to the orange barrel. The drop is made at 200 feet above the runway at about 100 mph. Altitude is verified by the judges with a rangefinder and anyone lower than 200 feet is disqualified.

Following Message Drop, Clayton Hawley and Aaron Varela prepared for the single round of VFR Navigation that would be flown in these championships. Normally there would be 3 rounds. They reported their route went well but they were off by a gallon on their fuel estimate. That will hurt their score. We'll find out the results tomorrow. 

There is a significant build up to the awards ceremony. Some schools spent over $100,000 on their flight teams and results are critical to future budgets. So they spend a considerable amount of time and money on their programs. Consequently the awards are critically important for them and they take it very seriously.

Tomorrow morning we will complete the final round of Power-On Short Field Landings. Jenna Sims is scheduled to fly in the final round which will close out all flying events in these national championships. Competition will end with a business meeting for teams who will decide where next year's championships are to be held.

At this point we believe the best proposal will come from Embry-Riddle in Daytona Florida.

Your SDCC pilots will go back to the hotel and prepare for the awards banquet. I'll try to take a picture of them as they dress up really nice for this event.

Tomorrow: Final Day

 Message Drop judges prepare tapes to measure distance from target barrel to where message box lands  This is a great picture of the message box target, a 55-gallon barrel painted orange. It is easily sighted from the air.  Frank Razo and Aaron Penney take off in Heat 6 Round 1 of Message Drop. Target barrel is in foreground  Aaron Penney prepares to drop the message box upwind and slightly beyond the barrel at 200 feet and 100 mph 

Aaron’s hand is open and the streamer from the message box (red) is just behind the wheel pant and just in front of the E in 91E - the registration number of the airplane.  Aaron prepares message box for second drop. There are two drops in each run - one at either end of the runway with about 8 seconds to make adjustments before second drop  Dylan makes first drop. You can see white message box and blue streamer just below the 1E in N5291E airplane number.  Pilots preparing 91E for the VFR Navigation event with Clayton Hawley and Aaron Varela  

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SAFECON 2011 - DAY 8

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 Thursday - Day 8 SAFECON 2011 Ohio State University 


Thursday forecast was for clearing skies and isolated showers, but before long the skies closed out the sun that had poked through briefly Wednesday afternoon. Then it opened again with liquid sunshine – the kind that makes everything, you know - wet. Even so, NIFA was able to complete 5 rounds of Power-Off Spot Landings. SDCC pilots did well with some close to the line and a few long in the box. We had a couple out of the box.

The "box" is a 300' long chalked box with the landing line located 100' from the front end. Judges line the runway and mark where each plane lands. They look for wheel movement and measure the distance from the landing line. Wheels are painted with white markers to make them easy to identify motion. If the plane bounces, they mark where both wheels touch down and stay on the ground. Penalties are given for irregular patterns, excessive floating, forcing the plane onto the ground etc. Pilots are disqualified for any technique considered unsafe by the judges.

The judges switched to Message drop at 6pm – determined to get as much flying as possible. But the weather would not cooperate. Visibility lowered, rain increased and flying was cancelled around 1830. The team was scheduled to meet with LeTourneau University and Liberty University for dinner and fellowship as they do each year. But fatigue was beginning to show on our young aviators and they decided to return to the hotel and go to bed early. Friday would be a long, busy day and the long trip from San Diego combined with a week of mostly sitting around watching the weather took its toll. One cannot discount the cumulative effects of fatigue – regardless of the source – in the course of these marathon competitions.

Friday is forecast to be foggy in the morning, with some clearing by noon. The plan is to get as many Message Drop rounds as possible. There are 5 rounds scheduled with 7 heats in each round. The judges will switch to the Navigation Event as soon as weather permits. Navigation requires higher ceilings in a 100 mile arc north of Columbus because the waypoints for each of the 3 NAV routes are 90nm (102 miles) long. The Nav routes loop around the area mostly north of Columbus so the judges have to verify adequate weather throughout the region before switching to NAV.
Watch: Paul Martin Power Off Spot Landing ... 



Power-Off Spot Landing Judges at the ZERO landing line. Red Flag is the touchdown spot.  Paul Martin floats to touchdown in Power-Off landings - estimate 140 feet long.  Paul Martin: Tires just above the 20 foot line  Randi Cavalier, Frank Razo & Aaron Penney watching Power Off landings at Ohio State University 

This is the paint striping on the wheels so judges can mark when and where tires touch down in spot landings Clayton Hawley celebrates the sun peeking out over the clouds - it was a short celebration! Bird’s nest in the engine of N8353T. Didn’t take the birds long to find a dry place to raise a family. Unfortunately the home was in an airplane engine...  Building a home between spark plug wires of an airplane doesn’t make for a stable homelife...  

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NIFA SAFECON - Flight Home Information

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Follow SDCC's Flight Home from Columbus OH

You can track SDCC's flights home to San Diego starting Sunday morning (May 22) by going to and type in one of the following airplane registration numbers (N5291E for example) to track individual airplanes:

N79MR – Coach/Advisor Breslin – Cessna TR-182
N6706Y – Coach Belden – Beech Duchess BE-76
N5291E – Cessna 172
N40963 – Piper PA-28-161 Warrior
N8353T – Piper PA-28-236 Dakota

Current plan is to fly from KOSU to KGPM – Grand Prairie Texas- and RON (Remain Over Night) in Dallas.
Monday morning our pilots are scheduled to tour the American Airlines Flight Academy, meet Chief Pilot Captain John Hale, and fly Boeing 737 simulators.
We are also tentatively planning to visit the headquarters of the Allied Pilots Association – the pilot union for American Airlines before flying to El Paso Monday afternoon.


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 Aaron Varela touches down in Heat 6 Power-on Spot landings 190 feet long  
 Aaron Varela on final for Power-on spot landings Kyle Mayhugh lands the Piper in Heat 13 Power-on Spot landings about 160 feet long Shon Northcutt, Jenna Sims, Coach Jeff Satterwhite, Aaron Varela, Kyle Mayhugh and Chris Reeves watch SDCC pilots land 

 Paul Martin on approach to Rwy 27R in first day of landings at SAFECON 2011 The Flight Line at OSU as airplanes queue in heats of 4 planes each for spot landings John Crotts, Dylan Jones & Clayton Hawley help Dylan prepare for Heat 26 in spot landing competiiton Jenna Sims puts N5291E away after her Heat 5 was cancelled at the end of the day 

 Paul Martin lands in Heat 20 of Power On spot landings about 80 feet long 

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SAFECON 2011 - DAY 7

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 Wednesday - Day 7 SAFECON 2011 Ohio State University 

Today began overcast with a 500 foot ceiling but also with a hopeful forecast. Jenna Sims and John Crotts met at 0730 for once-over practice of their American Airlines Safety interview. They met with Captain David Andre, chief pilot for American's Saint Louis crew base for their presentation which covers all of SDCC's safety policies and practices.

Paul Martin and Clayton Hawley flew the "Ground Trainer" pattern in the simulator later in the morning. The pattern is a complicated series of timed turns, precision climbs, descents and maneuvers to test the instrument skills in an IFR simulator.

Finally at 1pm, the clouds did part or rise, or evaporate enough to launch the first of 35 heats of 4 aircraft. Team Captain Aaron Varela was in Heat 6 for Power-on landings. Power-on landings mean you can partially cut the power on the downwind – abeam the landing point and reduce the power as you approach landing so you are at idle power and full stall landing at touchdown. Throughout the pattern you can keep some power on, but as you reduce power for touchdown, you may not re-add power (if it looks like you'll land short for example) -without significant penalties. A description of all the competition events is available on our website (click here) .

Aaron was followed by Kyle Mayhugh [Heat 13] , Paul Martin [Heat 20] and Dylan Jones [Heat 26]. Jenna Sims was in Round 5, Heat 32 but the 5th round was postponed because they could not finish it before dark. We think most of our landings were "in the box" (See descriptions in link above). We watched hundreds of landings and there were plenty that were worse, and many that were better. We won't know the results until the awards banquet Saturday night.

You can listen to the KOSU Control Tower by clicking on this link and typing KOSU in the "By airport/ARTCC code" 

They don't say a whole lot but you can hear them clearing the NIFA Heats for takeoff and landing. It is streaming audio but we're told it works most of the time.

Today we start early with Power-off – SHORT FIELD LANDINGS at 0800. The weather is IFR this morning but is expected to improve throughout the day. After Short Field landings (35 heats) they may go into message drop or finish the Power-Off landings final round. We never know until the judges decide so our team is at the airport ready to pull the airplanes on and off the line. Pilots not in landing events are the ground crews moving planes back and forth or studying for their events.

Still to go are the Navigation Events planned for Friday morning. Navigation sends crews of two on a 100 mile round-robin flight over 5 checkpoints to test their ability to accurately plot the waypoints, accurately calculate headings, distances and fuel between waypoints, and come up with an overall time and fuel burn for the route. Estimates are compared with the actual fuel burn and actual time enroute. This event is won or lost by a tenth of a gallon or a few seconds on the time clock.

As I write this (0418 Pacific time) Clayton and Shon are in the simulator at the airport flying a "LOFT" (line-oriented flight training) scenario with judges testing them on multi-crew resource management in an instrument situation. They give them a "real-life" scenario and they have to make decisions as if they had a boss on board, an aircraft system problem or passenger medical emergency. They are tested on their decision-making and for how well they work together on normal as well as abnormal or emergency procedures.

Tonight our team will meet to get information on developing a professional aviation fraternity, Alpha Eta Rho at SDCC. We are considering that our chapter might be called "Iota Theta Sigma" - signifying the three greek letters on the cross when Christ was crucified: - [ IHS = ἸΘΣ = Ἰησοῦς, Θεος, Σωτήρ = Iēsous, Theos, Sōtēr = Jesus, God, Savior].

Following that meeting we will meet with the students from Liberty University and LeTourneau University for an hour of prayer and fellowship. We have developed this tradition over the years as it gives us a chance to compare our Christian walk in aviation with our colleagues at other Christian Universities. 

Overall everyone is relieved to be flying again. Without getting any landing practices in, our pilots are "rusty". But many other schools were unable to practice landings so we're in good company. Unfortunately some schools have been in Columbus practicing for over a week and they are tough to beat! Today we are also beginning to plan our trip back across America starting Sunday morning. We covet your prayers for this 2000 mile trip as weather will continue to be a factor in our planning. 


 Aaron Varela touches down in Heat 6 Power-on Spot landings 190 feet long  
 Aaron Varela on final for Power-on spot landings Kyle Mayhugh lands the Piper in Heat 13 Power-on Spot landings about 160 feet long Shon Northcutt, Jenna Sims, Coach Jeff Satterwhite, Aaron Varela, Kyle Mayhugh and Chris Reeves watch SDCC pilots land 

 Paul Martin on approach to Rwy 27R in first day of landings at SAFECON 2011 The Flight Line at OSU as airplanes queue in heats of 4 planes each for spot landings John Crotts, Dylan Jones & Clayton Hawley help Dylan prepare for Heat 26 in spot landing competiiton Jenna Sims puts N5291E away after her Heat 5 was cancelled at the end of the day 

 Paul Martin lands in Heat 20 of Power On spot landings about 80 feet long 

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SAFECON 2011 - DAY 6

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Tuesday - Day 6 SAFECON 2011 Columbus OH 


Tuesday Weather Report: STILL and CLEAR – However we've had our California weather interpreters decipher Columbus-speak into the following translation to mean: "STILL raining and CLEAR up to your knees"! Yes the skies are silent again as the cloud bases are at 500 feet. The forecast remains bad through tomorrow. In our boredom we have pondered some poetry. With apologies to Edgar Allen Poe:

Once upon a SAFECON dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of cloud and wind and rain,
While I nodded, nearly boring, suddenly there came the rain a pouring,
As of some one gently dropping, dropping damp…
"Tis some visiter," I muttered, "dropping more rain — upon my ramp

Only this, and nothing more…"

Roll Call on opening day is a highlight of the competition and each team prepares their unique response. Responses range from a simple 'here" - to elaborate skits, songs and hoots.
Your SDCC Hawks read a mock "ATIS" - weather report that was well received given the current weather in Columbus:

San Diego ATIS: Information # Kilo
Time: Always
Wind: Light and Breezy and Always Easy
Visibility: Unrestricted
Sky Conditions: Clear below the sun
Temperature: 24ºC
Dew point: (team shouts) Doesn't matter!
Altimeter: 29.98
Active Runway in Use: Cha, Whichever you want, Bro…
Notices to Airmen: Ocean Beach, La Jolla Beach, Mission Beach, Coronado Beach, Point Loma Beach,(Need I go on?): Open!
Use Caution: Surfers, Sunbathers in vicinity
Severe Weather Outlook: Icing-(team shouts) None!
Turbulence-(team shouts) None!
Convection- (team shouts) None!
Remarks: Why did we leave San Diego again? Maybe someday we can have SAFECON San Diego
Advise on initial contact: You have information AWESOME

With no prospect for better weather today, flying on Tuesday has been cancelled.
The team goes back to the hotel to study for the Navigation and ground simulator events. Tomorrow is scheduled for Power-Off Spot Landings.


 Air Force Academy and SDCC at the morning briefing SDCC team sings Happy Birthday to Coach Mat Belden Jenna Sims practice plotting waypoints for the Navigation Event  Kyle Mayhugh plotting waypoints for the Navigation Event. Coach Belden proctors practice exams  

 Prop drops... SDCC’s N5291E on the flight line with other cold, wet airplanes  N5291E reflects “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my Cowl”  Clayton Hawley flies the Frasca simulator with G1000 navigation display. 

 Jenna Simms and John Crotts prepare for Safety Interview. 

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SAFECON 2011 - DAY 5

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 Monday - Day 5 SAFECON 2011 Columbus OH

Monday starts with the contestant's briefing where each team has an opportunity to introduce themselves. Our team has been working on their opening statement which will be specifically about the horrible OHIO Weather – and how we could all be flying – if the competition were held in California!


Read the article from Columbus local news...
College-age pilots prove skills, find thrills at competition
Published: Sunday, May 15, 2011 8:06 AM EDT


SAFECON 2011 - DAY 4

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 Sunday - Day 4 SAFECON 2011 Columbus OH

Sunday morning looked dreadful from the start. Rain squalls had rolled across the Ohio Valley plains all through the night but hope springs eternal in the minds of the young aviators hoping to get some landing practice in. After flying 16 flight hours across America to Ohio – our cross-country skills are excellent but that doesn't help with the precision accuracy required for spot landings. Our planes were towed into the hot-box for the first 4 heats of practice starting at noon.

But the clouds persisted and the rain began and all through the afternoon the ceiling hung at just below minimums required to fly. So we sat. Then we gave up and went to the hotel to study and practice. The day ended with the team preparing for the ground events Monday which include Computer Accuracy (E6B), Simulated Comprehensive Air Navigation (SCAN) and Aircraft Identification (ACID).

SAFECON 2011 - DAY 3

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DAY 3 - National Championships at Ohio State University

Saturday dawned dark, overcast and rainy. We filed our flight plans and the first airplane was airborne on an IFR clearance to KOSU airport at 0830. The 320 mile trip was estimated to take about 3 hours. The forecast was for storms in the afternoon so the best flying weather was early in the day. Most of the flight to OSU was in the clouds with some big storms near Cincinnati and just south of Columbus.  

Some of our planes diverted around the storms but the ride was smooth and not as bad as we expected. Some were able to land without flying an instrument approach, others made the decision to follow the instrument arrival procedure.

By 1pm all planes were tied down. We signed up for practices on Sunday and Monday but we all agreed we were too tired to make practice landings today so we arranged for dinner and went to the hotels. Team Captain Aaron Varela, along with Clayton Hawley and Shon Northcutt arrived on the airlines tonight so our team is in place for practice tomorrow.

A word here about our pilots. Yes – our goal is to compete and score high in the competition, but the experience our pilots are getting flying in this spring midwest weather is undeniably valuable training. I can tell you as their coach and advisor, that I am extremely proud of the way they planned and flew each of their flights. You cannot imagine the difficulty of putting to practice – all those things learned about cross-country flying and instrument training - until you start dealing with them all at once in the real world of weather and air traffic control.   

 Flight Track and storm locations near Columbus on arrival Saturday
  Windsock at Metropolis Airport  
 Kyle Mayhugh waiting for departure clearance from Shawnee Oklahoma  Cumulus buildup between Metropolis and Columbus
  Sunny afternoon in Columbus – it was raining hard 30 minutes later
  Support planes safely on the ramp at KOSU airport (Yes OSU owns their own airport)
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You can follow SDCC aircraft flights across America by going to
Type in one of the following airplane registration numbers (N5291E for example) to track individual airplanes:

N79MR – Coach/Advisor Breslin – Cessna TR-182
N6706Y – Coach Belden – Beech Duchess BE-76
N5291E – Cessna 172
N40963 – Piper PA-28-161 Warrior
N8353T – Piper PA-28-236 Dakota
SLN-M30: Flight track of SDCC aircraft from Shawnee OK to Metropolis IL   

 40963: Flight track of SDCC Piper Warrior from Shawnee OK to Metropolis IL 


SAFECON 2011 - DAY 2

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 DAY 2 National Championships at Ohio State University

On Friday morning we awoke to 30 knot winds and overcast skies. The plan was to fly 412 miles from Shawnee OK to Metropolis IL. The stay in Metropolis allowed the team to spend the night in a home owned by Flight Team Coach Mat Belden – an SDCC graduate and former team captain. The forecast called for clouds along the route and thunderstorms along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers near Paducah Kentucky – which is exactly where we were going. It started out smooth and clear above the clouds at 11,000 feet but several hours in to the flight it was clear the forecast was bearing out. The Cessna with Paul Martin and John Crotts planned a fuel stop in Branson MO. The other 4 planes went non-stop to Metropolis, planning to fly an instrument approach into Paducah KY to get below the clouds.

Metropolis had made the national news in recent weeks for flooding. The area had received over 350% of its normal rainfall. Luckily – and in direct answer to prayer that the clouds be parted – all but one of the planes were able to fly around the leading storms to the north by Cape Girardeau MO, and circle back to land at Metropolis in clear weather. N5291E was delayed 30 minutes due to the fuel stop and we watched them arrive just ahead of a giant storm dropping horizontal rain amidst claps of thunder and streaks of lightning.

But we got the planes secured against the wind and within an hour we were all safe and dry in Mr. Belden's home. The team enjoyed Pizza, compliments of the Belden's and concluded the evening with a prayer of thanksgiving and debrief of the day's flying. We then made our plans for Saturday's concluding leg to OSU and got everyone to bed early.


 Click photos to enlarge  

 Jenna Sims in the wind before departing Shawnee Oklahoma for Metropolis Illinois.   Randi Cavalier prepares to depart Shawnee.  Satellite depiction of thunderstorms near Metropolis. The airplane symbol north of Cape Girardeau MO will fly north of the storm and then to the east then back south for landing in Metropolis.  
 Downtown Metropolis (home of Superman) under water from the Ohio River.   Approaching the Metropolis Airport for landing.  Superman on the airport terminal: Truth, Justice, and the American Way. 

SAFECON 2011 - DAY 1

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SDCC Competes in National Championships at Ohio State University

The SDCC Flight Team left San Diego for Ohio State just after the morning fog burned off Thursday May 12. Five planes began the trip with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise. Our prayer included a plea for a safe, smooth flight. Several planes stopped for fuel in Phoenix and everyone met just west of El Paso for another fuel stop. The next leg crossed West Texas to Plainview, just north of Lubbock and the final leg put everyone safely on the ground in Shawnee Oklahoma, just east of Oklahoma City at 10pm. 

The team was tired but thankful to have covered nearly 1100 nautical miles in about 10 hours of flying. Speed was important because storms were forecast for later Thursday night. 

Click photos to enlarge  

Jenna Sims prepares to launch from San Diego to Phoenix    SDCC Flight Team poses beneath the Pat Blankemeier Palm Tree before leaving.   John Crotts and Jenna Sims, flying partners first leg   Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones refuel at Santa Theresa airport near El Paso.    

  Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones before leaving San Diego.   The Cessna 172 (N5291E) and Piper Warrior (N40963) line up to depart for Ohio.   Frank Razo and Aaron Penney 

NIFA -SAFECON 2011 Nationals - Follow the Flight Team

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Flight Team 2011 NIFA 


Click here and follow the Flight Team Blog for daily updates!  


The San Diego Christian College Flight Team is preparing to fly to the national college flying championships at Ohio State University. Although SDCC is one of the smallest schools in the national competition, we are proud to participate with the top 30 aviation universities in the country. The Team consists of 11 aviation technology majors at SDCC who have practiced and trained and competed regionally against teams from Embry Riddle, San Jose State , Cypress College, Mt San Antonio College and the US Air Force Academy. Only the top teams in each region receive bids to the national championships.

We will be posting daily blogs of the competition along with pictures of the 2000 mile trip to Columbus Ohio. We’re very excited about the trip which gives our young aviators invaluable real-time experience flying cross-country, and the opportunity to compete against the best collegiate pilots in the country.

Departure time is tentatively scheduled for Thursday May 12 weather permitting. Follow along as the team wings its way east. With Flight Aware you can track the planes as they make their way towards KOSU.”    See more information here!  And check out:  SAFECON 2011  


Flight Map 2011 




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