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2012 Awards and Return from Salina

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 SDCC Flight Team... 

 SDCC National SAFECON Competition Team 2012-2  


Sunday May 20, 2012 Awards and Returning from Salina  

Mike Elm laments complicated sim patternAwards banquet SAFECON 2012 Kansas State Univ

The team's performance this year was both gratifying and humbling. Our first year at nationals in 2009 we placed 24 out of 33 teams in St. Louis. Not bad considering our size relative to the big schools. In 2010 we moved up a slot to 23rd in Terra Haute. Last year we moved up another place to 22nd in Columbus OH. Our goal this year was to break into the "teens." Given the lack of practice time (due to lack of funds), odds were that it was a long-shot. As coincidences go, SDCC's "Roll Call" chant at the General Briefing on the first day was prophetic. Kevin Brandt stands and delivers a cheer with the team following in chanting unison: "I, Believe, That, We, Will, Win..." -repeated 5 or 6 times followed by Dylan Jones standing alone, shouting "18th"!!! How ironic then that we should earn 18th place, right behind Liberty (16) and LeTourneau (17) Universities.  

You can see results of all the teams in the download from the previous report. Here is a summary of our performance: 


 Kayla and Jackson at awardsPower-Off Landing (135 Competitors) 

  1. Martin (28th)
  2. Jones (34th)
  3. Sims (53rd)
  4. Judge (73rd)
  5. Mayhugh (111th)

Short Field Landing (55 Competitors) - 2 Rounds (Event Shortened By Wind Limit) 

  1. Mayhugh (16)
  2. Martin (44)

 Paul, Kyle, Dylan, and Jenna at awardsNavigation (80 Teams Competing) 

  1. Mayhugh - Jones (28)
  2. Judge - Harder (36)
  3. Sims - Brandt (38)

Message Drop (27 Teams Competing - 1 Round (Event Shortened By Wind Limit) 

  1. Mayhugh - Jones (11)

Ifr Simulator (28 Competitors) 

  1. Elm (19)

 Paul, Kyle, Dylan, Jenna and DennySimulated Comprehensive Air Navigation "Scan" (136 Competitors) 

  1. Martin (22)
  2. Jones (51)
  3. Sims (89)
  4. Harder (106)
  5. Mayhugh (113)

Computer Accuracy "E6-B" (136 Competitors) 

  1. Martin (5)
  2. Harder (77)
  3. Brandt (85)
  4. Sims (112)
  5. Gathman (130)

Aircraft Recognition "Acid" (136 Competitors) 

  1. Mayhugh (87)
  2. Martin (121)
  3. Elm (123)
  4. Jones (125)
  5. Lowery (133)

Ground Trainer (Simulator Pattern) (55 Competitors) 

  1. Martin (19)
  2. Elm (30)

Preflight (Aircraft Preflight (55 Competitors) 

  1. Mayhugh (42)
  2. Sims (53)

Outstanding Team Member (Each Team Votes For Their "Mvp") 

  • William Lowery

National Rankings (Top 136 Of 305 Competitors Are Ranked) 

  1. Martin (50th Overall)  
  2. Jones (76th  Overall ) - TIE  
  3. Mayhugh (76th Overall ) - TIE  
  4. Elm (131st  Overall ) 

 SAFECON 2012 Awards TeamSdcc Team Members 

  1. Kyle Mayhugh (senior)
    2012 Flight Team Captain
  2. Dylan Jones (junior)
    2013 Flight Team Captain (elect)
  3. Paul Martin (senior)
  4. Jenna Sims (junior)
  5. Mike Elm (sophomore)
  6. Jackson Judge (sophomore)
  7. William Lowery (sophomore)
  8. Laura-Beth Gathman (freshman)
  9. Kayla Harder (freshman)
  10. Kevin Brandt (freshman

Sdcc Flight Team Coaches 

  • Captain Denny Breslin - Advisor and Head Coach
  • Titus Dinkins - coach
  • Captain Jeff Satterwhite - coach
  • Captain Jill Geary - coach
  • Colonel Steve Geary - coach
  • Sean Brennan - coach 

Route home from Salina to San Diego 1268nmWith flight plans filed and planes packed, one thing remained an obstacle to our departure from Salina. Announcements at Saturday night's awards banquet were nearly drowned out by the din of a hard rainfall on the pavilion roof. "The rain is Tess, the is fire Joe and they call the wind Mariah" - words to the old Kingston Trio song seemed to describe the heat and wind, but the severe thunderstorm that had bore-sighted Salina and sent us scurrying to hangar our aircraft just before the banquet had split in two, sparing the flight line. But "Tess" did not pass completely without leaving a wet impression during the banquet.  


Taos NMFlying home 14500 feet 250 miles from Winslow By the time the awards celebrations were over, the streets were nearly dry again and the skies to the west looked promising for an 0800 departure in Sunday morning. The thing we fear most on these long trips aside from a mechanical breakdown is the weather. It can close off entire states from air navigation and ground flights for days. But in this case our team was blessed with good VFR (visual) weather allowing Dylan and Jenna to launch on schedule for El Cajon with stops in Borger TX, Almagordo  NM, and Tucson AZ. Jackson and Kayla followed close behind and stayed in radio contact the whole way home. Kyle and I launched an hour or so later making only one fuel stop 5 hours later in a town near Winslow AZ. From there it was a little over 2 hours to Gillespie Field. Even so we were able to talk to each other on the radio and monitor each other's progress.  


Titus' Aunt took the team to dinner.Titus and Will Lowery dropped Mike Elm and Laura-Beth Gathman off in Colorado Springs before driving over the Rockies on their 22 hour drive home with an over-night in St. George, Utah. Time in the van did not go wasted. Of course some slept, some studied, but the best product of the time spent in the SDCC van was the music video written, choreographed and "filmed" on the iPhone by Coach Titus Dinkins. We will post that video in time - most likely on YouTube. By 3pm Monday everyone was home safe and sound.   

The team will debrief performance and inventory the gear before signing off until the fall semester.  

With completion of SAFECON National Championships comes the end of the reign of Captain Kyle Mayhugh. I would like to thank Kyle and his leadership team for their service to the team. I also welcome his successor,Captain Dylan Jones. Thanks to all who donated time, energy and funds to the team. Thanks especially to the coaches who donated their precious time nights and weekends.

Read the "Salina Journal" SAFECON article


 Flight Team in Dusty Kansas Wheatfield 



SAFECON 2012 Awards

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 Saturday May 19 - Awards (Breaking News...)

This just in: San Diego Christian College wins 18th in National College Flying Championships

We are fixin' to leave for San Diego after 10 days on the road and tough Kansas competition. We competed against other pilots but we also competed against the weather and guess who won? They don't call the wind Mariah for nothing! Although some events were shortened, the results are in and San Diego Christian College met our goal to break into the "teens" on national ranking.

2009 = 24th
2010 = 23rd
2011 = 22nd


2012 = 18th!!!

We came in right behind Liberty and LeTourneau University in 18th place. At the opening ceremonies Flight Team Captain-elect Dylan Jones concluded our "roll call chant" of "I Believe We Will Win" with a postscript: "18th Place" - and so it is. How ironic.

There was a severe thunderstorm watch yesterday just as the awards banquet was about to start so Captain Jeff Satterwhite (SDCC Coach), Titus and I went to the airport and moved the planes into the hangar. We did that to avoid possible hail damage that would have extended our 10-day road trip for an indefinite period.

With planes safe, we slept better and this morning at 0430 San Diego time we left the hotel for the airport to preflight the planes and get underway.

Posted here are the results of SAFECON 2012 . We will recap SDCC's successes in a later update. Please pray for safe flights, low headwinds and safe road travel for Titus and the pilots in the van for a 22-hour drive to San Diego.

Thanks to Captain Jill and Steve Geary for their incredible assistance at all levels and to Titus Dinkins for his indefatigable leadership and energy while organizing and inspiring our pilots! Captain Jeff Satterwhite, an American B-777 captain volunteers to coach our team but he is also here as a NIFA judge. Thanks to all our supporters, donors and for those who prayed for our safety and success. God Bless you!

Captain Denny Breslin

 SAFECON 2012 Awards Team 


Update from the National College Flying Championships Tue-Fri

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Tuesday May 15 - Navigation

91E  Prepares for landingsTuesday was a flying day. The Navigation event tests the pilot's ability to plan a route based on a set of 4 or 5 lat/long coordinates. Pilots draw a line connecting the points then compute course, distance, time and fuel for the route. After planning they fly the route – about an hour and a half.

We had 3 Nav teams. A team consists of the pilot/planner, and the observer. The pilot is given the coordinates and 30 minutes to do the planning while the observer preflights the plane and gets it ready to launch. The first team to go was Jenna Sims and Kevin Brandt in 91E at 1020. Then Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones launched at 1240 in 963. Heats ran late so Jackson Judge and Kayla Harder got airborne after 4pm. We won't know how we did compared to other teams until Saturday night's Award banquet, but SDCC has always been strong in the Nav event so we're hoping to pick up some points.

Upon returning to base, the judges download the tracking information and compare it to the planned route. Scores are given for how close planning time and fuel were to actual time and fuel used. Winners win by a few seconds, and losers lose by tenth's of a gallon over a route that covers 120 miles.

Mike Elm just finished his instrument rating recently was the most qualified to fly the IFR Event because of his recency of training. He reported good results from the route he flew with judges looking over his shoulder grading every move he made. He said he made a few mistakes but that the judges were pleased with his performance.


91E ERAU   91E taxi's for landing    

Wednesday May 16 - Power–Off Spot Landings

Another flying day included Power-off spot landings. Landings are judged on how close to the line they land, but rules require precise pattern work including precise altitude, heading, airspeed and ground track. Landings are 3-dimensional, so precision must be reflected in the vertical plane by flying a glide-slope or approach angle to the landing spot. Pilots must be at an exact speed at a precise altitude a 'certain distance" from the touchdown spot which is a line in the middle of a box painted on the runway.

Titus helps Paul prepare for Ground TrainerThe "spot" moves depending on wind so experience and judgement reward those with flight discipline. Judges line the runway and measure the distance the tires touch down from the landing line. Planes cannot bounce or porpoise, float, or fly erratically. The difference is the variability of the wind. The "certain distance" from the landing line depends on the wind which is ultimately undependable! Power off landings are done with the engine power at idle so pilots typically glide about a mile without engine thrust to touch down on the landing line. Try it at home! It's not so easy!

Denny and Laura-Beth, Mike and WillThere was a stiff crosswind blowing when Paul Martin taxied out in Heat 4. We could not see his landings because the runway was too far from the ramp, so we'll have to wait for the results. Paul said he had to go-around on one approach because he was too high and he thought his next landing was "in the box". Kyle Mayhugh followed in Heat 10, then Jenna Sims in Heat 17. By then the wind was picking up. Dylan Jones flew Heat 24 and Jackson Judge was in Heat 30. Crosswinds are very tricky because you have to hold the glideslope with ailerons and rudders "cross-controlled" so the plane is flying "wing – down (into the wind) and opposite rudder (to align the longitudinal axis of the plane with the runway centerline) while still flying a perfect approach.

Dylan Jones, Jenna Sims and Kayla Harder gave the safety presentation in the American Airlines Safety Award. The judges were two American Airlines captains (including Captain Jeff Satterwhite, AA B-777 captain who is also one of our coaches). The American Airlines Safety Award is given to the team that demonstrates the best safety program at "SAFECON" - which stands for Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference – and gives the best presentation of their program.

Jenna and Denny in the hangarAt 5pm Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones met the judges for the Crew Resource Management (CRM) event where they flew together as a "crew" in a multi-engine aircraft on a simulated mission. They were given a navigation route from Reno to South Lake Tahoe and graded on how well they employed CRM techniques to solve problems. Deviation from any route, altitude, clearance etc. resulted in penalty points. It is an event designed to test attention to detail and any missed note or procedure is grounds for disqualification or lost points.

Wednesday afternoon I flew up to Nampa Idaho to attend the International Association of Missionary Aviation conference at MAF headquarters.

Thursday May 17 – Short Field Landings

In the hangar between eventsAs I was attending the IAMA conference Paul Martin continued spot landings in Heat 4 of the Short-Field landings. Short Field landings differ from Power off landings in that pilots fly with some power on the plane but must reduce and land without power in a full-stall attitude – on the landing line. Wind is a factor, but not as much as in Power off landings. But before Kyle could fly in Heat 10, the wind picked up with gusts over 25 knots – the NIFA limit. Flying was canceled for the day. Later, Jenna and Kyle competed in the Preflight Event, and Paul and Mike Elm flew the Ground Trainer Event in the Frasca simulator. Ground Trainer Event requires the pilot to fly a 5 minute pattern of turns, climbs and descents to precise standards with points deducted for errors in headings, speed or altitudes.


T38 Throughout the week aviation dignitaries visited NIFA to allow students to learn about different aviation careers. Thursday afternoon, Col. Jim Dutton flew into Salina in a NASA T-38. Dutton participated in SAFECON between 1988 and 1991 while in the Air Force Academy. He has had the opportunity to pilot the STS-131 on a resupply mission to the International Space Station in 2010. Dr. Stephen Robinson accompanied Col. Dutton on his flight to Salina. Several of our students toured a DC-8 NASA used to fly through Thunderstorms to collect data.

Kevin and Mike Plane CaptainsI returned from Idaho at 1030 pm following strong tailwinds over Wyoming. I wanted to be in Salina Friday morning for the final round of spot landings and Message Drop. I understood better why the landings were canceled Thursday when I was on approach to land on Runway 17. With 100 knots reading on my airspeed indicator, my groundspeed was 55 knots only 1000 feet above the ground. Winds so strong near the ground were not going to be a good sign for Friday…

Friday May 18 – Message Drop – They call the wind Mariah, but we call it Annoying!

The weather forecast for today was not encouraging. The sky was clear but the Kansas winds were expected to blow strong later in the morning. We briefed at 0630. Most college students are not big fans of early wake-ups, but the cook at the Webster Conference Center had breakfast ready at 5:30 and Kyle and Dylan rolled 91E into the queue for message drop at 0700. True to form the winds picked up and after only one round of Message Drop. NIFA officials switched back to Short field landings to get as many in as they could.

That didn't last very long. They suspended flying for the day at 0955 and as it turns out, for all flying events at the National Championships.

Mike and LBIt's unfortunate that more flying wasn't done earlier in the week when weather was perfect. As Rosanne Rose Anna-danna used to say, "…it's always something!"

We were worried whether the planes were tied down against 35-40 knot winds so after a final check the team joined 300 fellow competitors in a social event on the KSU campus.

The next update will be following the Awards Ceremony Saturday night. There is no way to guess how anyone did in the flying events. The landings and message drop were accomplished in fits and starts and no one could get a rhythm going.

 Kevin the plane captain for 963 prepares for laung   Kayla and LB    

Update from the National College Flying Championships Fri-Mon

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More news from the SDCC flight team....   (click photos to enlarge)

Friday May 11, 2012 

Friday dawned dark and dreary, and the Flight Team woke up weak and weary… Okay, so much for Faux Poe! But the clouds did threaten rain and wind. Drained from 2 long days 2 time-zones east of home, 0630 came pretty early for our young aviators. But we had to be at the airport early to practice landings in heats scheduled by NIFA officials to work all the schools in before competition starts Monday.

Salina AirportMost everyone got a chance for at least one power-off spot landing and one short-field (power-on) landing. The forecast for Sunday was for wind and rain so we wanted to get as much practice as we could. While the flying pilots were practicing spot landings, others were pushing and pulling planes into and out of position, refueling, and cleaning bugs off the windows and wings.

The runway used for spot landings is so far from the hangar that we can't see to coach the pilots from the ground. Each of the landing pilots flew with another landing pilot to take notes and help learn landmarks around the landing pattern. From all accounts our landings were consistently good. Not perfect, just good. They left room for improvement. There are probably a dozen schools here practicing with the bulk of the competitors due in Saturday.

Of all the events in competition, landings and message drop are the most intense and competitive. They also award the most points. But the other events are challenging too, so Mike Elm went to the Frasca simulator to practice the "IFR" event. IFR stands for instrument flight rules – and refers to a flight in a simulator from one airport to another in instrument weather utilizing all the skills one learns to fly in the clouds including tracking radials, holding, instrument approaches and go-arounds. 

Dylan Jones and Kyle Mayhugh went to the Paradigm simulator to practice the "CRM" event. CRM stands for Crew Resource Management and refers to a flight in a Mayhugh and Jones practice CRMmulti-engine aircraft from one airport to another, similar to what the airlines call "LOFT" - or Line Oriented Flight Training. The pilots act as a crew. Kyle is the captain and Dylan is the first officer. They are tested on how they follow procedures, fly the aircraft, interact with each other and simulated "passengers". In short – it is about how they "manage their resources". They are graded on how well they do all those functions but the real points come from the decisions they make assuming they will be presented with a "problem" that requires them to divert to a different airport.

Paul Martin, Jenna Sims, Kayla Harder, Kevin Brandt and Laura-Beth Gathman worked navigation problems on their circular slide-rules known as the "E-6B" for the Computer Accuracy event. Will Lowery has been doing most of the driving but he's also a US Navy veteran and will be competing in the ACID event – also known as AirCraft Identification.

Saturday May 12, 2012 

Hangar flying at Abilene Airport

We got to the airport to practice landings and were told that we were at our limit and other schools were getting priority. It didn't matter that we had been saving our money for practice until we got here, and left early to have a couple extra days practice at the actual competition airport. So we put our heads together and Jenna came up with some intelligence that one of the other teams was practicing at a nearby airport and had even chalked the runway with landing boxes (300' marked each 50'). So we jumped in our planes and filled the van and hurried over to the Abilene Airport about 25 miles northeast. It turned out to be marvelous serendipity!

Abilene AirportThe tiny airport was all ours. We were able to fly the patterns for landings without burning fuel and expensive air time waiting for other airplanes in the pattern. Kyle Mayhugh, Dylan Jones, Paul Martin, Jenna Sims and Jackson Judge were all able to fly both power-off and short-field landings and we were able to stand next to the runway and grade each one up-close and personal. 

The most difficult event to practice for is "message drop" - which is flown 200 feet over the runway at 100mph. The flight pattern is flown like a landing rectangle except instead of landing, the plane 

Message drop target

levels at 200 feet and flies on a line upwind of a target on the ground. The window is opened and the "drop master" drops a 3-ounce box just far enough upwind to drift back onto the target. The distance the box lands from the target is measured and the total distance of two drops is added together for the score. Closest to the target wins. Kyle and Dylan flew together, Jenna and Kevin flew together and Dylan also flew with Will Lowery. I flew my plane for the drop-

masters to practice from the right seat and coached them as they guided the plane to a spot they calculated would be the perfect drop spot. At the end of the day we flew many more sorties than would have been possible back in Salina and we all agreed it was a great day.

Sunday May 13, 2012 

The team honored the Lord's Day with a group devotion at the Webster Conference Center. The Christian conference center sits on 20 acres of woods and lakes and is a serene reminder of the quiet Kansas country. It was a natural reminder of God's great countenance and would have been an even greater reminder if the mosquitos weren't so large and so hungry! (Mom, send mosquito spray and anti-itch cream!)

We spent Sunday preparing for the ground events scheduled for Monday. 

Monday May 14, 2012 – SAFECON 2012 is Underway 

22 GENERAL Briefing SAFECON 2012Today started out with a traditional "General Briefing" which is everybody's favorite because of the creative ways team think to respond to the NIFA "roll call". Last year John Crotts became famous for "ATIS San Diego" - kind of an inside joke, and this year SDCC was led in a cheer "I – Believe – We – Will – Win" - a-la-San Diego State. Lest anyone think our small school was too big for it's pants, Dylan Jones added - "18th place!" to complete the chant. Our goal this year is to break into the "teens." In 2009 we were 24th of 33 teams. In 2010 we finished 23rd. Last year we were 22nd. Our goal is to break into the teens so, "18th" is not an unreasonable goal.

E6BAt 10am our E-6B competitors, Paul, Jenna, Kayla, Kevin and Laura-Beth went in for their 90 minute ground competition. They emerged some thinking - "wow, that was really hard" and some thinking - "wow, I that was really easy" - so we'll see... Results are not posted until the Awards Banquet Saturday night so until then, performance postulations  are merrily premature speculations. The ACID event was next with Kyle, Paul, Dylan, Mike and Will. I walked in at the end while they were reviewing some of the airplanes used in the ID pictures and realized I could only recognize a handful of the dozens of pictures on the test. Cadets from the US Air Force Academy and airplane-super-geeks with photographic memories usually do well on ACID tests. The final event of the day was SCAN – Simulated Comprehensive Air Navigation. This is a very difficult test, the equivalent of an FAA knowledge exam for commercial and instrument pilots. Kyle, Dylan, Jenna, Kayla and Paul sweated through the exam then compared notes after.

SDCC Flight Team competes in National College Flying Championships

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For the 4th year in a row, the San Diego Christian College Precision Flight Team will be competing in the national NIFA college flying championships. This year competition is at Kansas State University in Salina KS. This blog will chronicle the trip to the championships as well as the competition and the trip back. I will try to update daily with pictures and descriptions of the travel and competition.   (Click on photos to enlarge.) 

Tuesday May 8 – Wednesday May 9 
Leaving SDCC for SalinaThe team left Tuesday, some in a van and some in the competition airplanes. Coach Titus Dinkins drove 1200 miles with William Lowery, Paul Martin, Kevin Brandt, Kayla Harder, and Laura-Beth Gathman. Michael Elm and Jackson Judge flew the Cessna while Dylan Jones and Jenna Sims flew the Cherokee. Jackson, Mike, Jenna and DylanI flew with team captain Kyle Mayhugh on Wednesday and despite different departure times and routes we all met within 15 minutes of each other in Oklahoma City.

Flight Team at CAMI 

Thursday May 10 - Oklahoma City - FAA High Altitude Training 

FAA Altitude ChamberWe left a day early to attend the FAA's high altitude training and pressure chamber at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI). The special training qualifies pilots for a logbook endorsement to fly above 25,000 feet in pressurized aircraft. Classroom training taught about the causes and symptoms of hypoxia and the pressure chamber allowed us to experience it. The hypobaric (low pressure) chamber simulates pressure experienced at 25,000 feet during rapid decompression. Each pilot had a chance to feel the subtle, and not-so-subtle effects of hypoxia as it progressed over 5 minutes. Some had to put their oxygen masks on after only a few minutes. Others held out the full 5 minutes but tests showed their functionality made it impossible to control an airplane after only 5 minutes of hypoxia. It was incredibly valuable training. Thanks to Titus for setting it up. Such training is difficult to get and very expensive. But for us it was free at FAA headquarters. 

 Altitude Chamber OKC   Mike and Denny in the Chamber    Exposlive decompression    Kayla Harder back on O2 


Kayla in Barani Chair Spatial Disorientation 
Everyone had a chance to sit in the Barany chair, a device used in training for spatial orientation. Kayla was the first to try the chair, blindfolded, then spun about the vertical axis while keeping her head upright. Jenna and Paul were asked to perform tasks such as determine direction of rotation or rapidly change the orientation of their head, or attempt to point at a stationary object after the chair is stopped. The chair is used to demonstrate spatial disorientation effects, proving that the vestibular system is not to be trusted in flight. So much for flying by the seat of the pants!

Jenna spins in Barany chair    Kyle in disorientation trainer   Kyle Mayhugh spatial disorientation   

Flight to Salina and answer to prayer. 

Leaving HSD behindAfter training we flew and drove 250 miles to Salina and tied down the planes. The van took 4 hours, the airplanes 1.5! 

Kyle and Dylan postflight

We are staying at the Webster Conference Center, a secluded Christian center just north of Salina. The weather has been phenomenal until Friday, but even so, it is flyable. We asked for prayer last Sunday at Shadow Mountain Community Church (archives) because weather hovering around the border near El Paso TX posed a threat along our route. So Pastor Jeremiah introduced the flight team during services and prayed for good weather. Behold, our prayers were answered! The weather stayed south and even though we had to adjust our flight plans to the north, the temperatures were mild which meant the planes were not affected by high density altitudes at the airports at higher elevations on the north route.

Late in the evening we checked into the WCC and lights-out was a welcome relief for some very tired pilots.


Dylan and Kyle    Pulling 91E into position    NIFA flight line   First Supper in SLN/> 


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