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SAFECON National Championship 2013 Blog

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 - Friday, May 10 

 - Saturday, May 11 

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 Welcome to the SDCC Flight Team National Intercollegiate Flying Association - national championships flight blog. We are competing in our 5th consecutive national championships at the Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio and we got here by placing second in regional competition last January.    

 
Only the top teams in America get an invitation to nationals. It's a big deal. Last year we placed 18th in the nation out of some 30 teams invited to the national championships. We don't take previous successes for granted. Competition is fierce and pride is at stake. Those stakes are high for colleges that invest heavily in their flight teams because of what a national championship can mean to a college that specializes in aviation. We're no different. We work hard at our craft and covet your prayers and support throughout the year, but especially during these pressure-packed, tiring days of competition. 

 

The SDCC Hawks Precision Flight Team left San Diego Wednesday on Southwest Airlines. This is the first year we have not flown our own aircraft to SAFECON. In years past we've flown our our planes from San Diego to St Louis, Terre Haute, Ohio State and Kansas State universities. Most of the flying is covered by student cross-country syllabus flights. But we didn't raise enough money this year to cover contingencies if weather made it impossible to fly syllabus training flights to Ohio so we took the airlines.  

 

I am the Flight Team Advisor and Head Coach. But I am also the "mule"(no jokes please!) - hauling team gear and stuff we need for 2 weeks on the road. I left San Diego in my Cessna 182RG Tuesday at noon for the 2600 mile trip to the Ohio State University. The first leg to Albuquerque was brutal - heavy turbulence and rolling mountain wave. I hoped and prayed for smooth flights on Wednesday.

 

But aside from a navigation database that failed on the way from Iona KS to Columbus OH, the storms stayed respectfully away - lining the course both north and south of my route to KOSU - (yes Ohio State has its own airport). I landed at 7:30pm on a nearly perfect Wednesday evening. I picked up Coach Steve and Coach Jill Geary just before midnight at the Columbus airport and the team arrived a few minutes later with so much added baggage we had to rent 3 cars! By the time everybody got to bed - it was nearly 2:30 in the morning.

 

  WEDNESDAY MAY 1 

 

Our team is supported by donations - we don't have a budget. So we save where we can. We found a Christian family in London - about 40 minutes west of KOSU who offered their home for our team at no cost! They are a missionary family with 8 children, so squeezing 11 more seemed impossible. But it is a huge mansion-like house and Denise and Mike McFarland graciously and humbly provided a most amazing retreat from the frenetic activity at the airport located on 10 acres about 30 miles west of the KOSU airport.

 

Without our star "Juliet" to fly, we were forced to rent 2 airplanes for competition. Anytime you fly a "stranger" - there are always some things you have to get used to... When Colonel Steve Geary checked our pilots out in the little red and white Cessna 150, we noticed one thing unique to an airplane in "farm country." Kenny Travis, one of our teammates, is a big John Deere fan. We thought it ironic, but endearing, that the little Cessna - a poor substitute for our favorite "Juliet" - featured cowling plugs sporting 2 John Deere flags sticking up above the cowl by the propeller!
 

 

 

  THURSDAY MAY 2  

 

No time to rest - what's circadian dysrythmia anyway? The weather was perfect - warm, sunny, and calm. We met for breakfast and a briefing, and got to the airport by noon. It took most of the afternoon to get everyone checked out on the airplanes. Some colleges send their teams to practice a week ahead of time. But it was bad timing for us and we had to make the best of the circumstances. The spring semester officially ends next week, but our pilots had to take their finals before leaving and most had the added pressure of taking their FAA check-rides before leaving as well. It takes a toll. The price Jenna and Dylan - more specifically their mom and dad - pay for participation in SAFECON is missing their graduation commencement services next Saturday.

 

  FRIDAY MAY 3  

 

 The weather just west of here is atrocious. There are thunderstorms just the other side of Dayton, a line of storms with snow, ice and lightning just beyond that. The line is so severe many flight teams are unable to penetrate and may not make it before Monday's opening ceremonies. The weather in Columbus is okay but getting windy. By early afternoon four pilots, Sean Conlan, Jenna Sims, Kayla Harder and Jackson Judge have practiced Power-Off Spot Landings in competition heats with the other teams. As the cross-wind picks up the judges say they may have to shut practices down because the heavy cross-wind makes landings on Runway 9 dangerous. As the wind picks up and shifts further south - they cut landings but okay Navigation flights because they can land on a runway more aligned with the wind whereas spot landings must have a dedicated runway.      

 
At 2pm, Coach Steve Geary and I put together a 5 waypoint Navigation route and Jenna Sims plans the 1-hour nav route on the sectional navigation charts. The idea is to plan and fly a pre-determined route after determining course, distance, time and fuel between waypoints. Then by comparing actual time and fuel used to planned time-enroute and fuel we can determine how many points they get. You win or lose this event by a tenth of a gallon of fuel or a couple seconds on time - so accuracy in planning and flying are paramount.  

 

With 35 knots of wind at 3000 feet, it was tricky planning the route carefully. To be accurate in planning you have to know how much fuel the plane uses in cruise flight. But this was a "new" old airplane so Jenna made a calculated guess of about 6 gallons per hour. She said she and her navigator Michael Elm got pretty close on fuel. We're building a database of information for the real competition next week.

 

Our Nav teams are: Team 1 - Jenna Sims and Mike Elm; Team 2 - Jackson Judge and Kayla Harder; and Team 3 - Sean Conlan and Dylan Jones. 

 

You haven't heard much about Dylan. Why is that? Well, he isn't here - yet! But he's due in Sunday morning after baseball championships are over. We've had to share our team captain with the Hawks championship baseball team. It hasn't been easy. We're looking forward to getting Dylan back.
 
  
Today the winds are blowing but we get Jenna, Sean, Kayla and Jackson at least one round of Short Field (power-on) landings. Two Nav teams plan Nav routes with the final waypoint near Madison County airport which is just south of the McFarland home. We thought we could move our operations over there to practice landings, message drop and take the McFarland family for plane rides as a way of repaying their generosity. But before we get very far into our lineup the wind picks up again and we are threatened with another wind cancellation. (Shades of shortened competition last year in Salina KS) We only get a couple landing heats in before the wind gets dangerous and the judges shut off the operation again. 
  
The forecast for the week is for clouds and rain Monday and Tuesday with more sun later in the week. Practice will be shortened tomorrow due to a "VIP TFR" - a Temporary Flight Restriction - because Obama is flying in (for the 10th time this year) - (Ohio was a swing state - remember?) to speak at the OSU commencement. Wherever Obama flies, air traffic is shut down - including SAFECON. So we have to wait it out...

 

Meanwhile the team will give its testimony at the McFarland's church which is near the KOSU airport. We will attend church services with our hosts and perhaps make a pitch for San Diego Christian College missionary aviation in the process!

 

As we close our first installment of our SAFECON blog, I wanted to alert you to an interesting website that Embry-Riddle coach Alex Tamsing has hilariously stitched together to have some fun with SAFECON. We think you will enjoy the clever parody of all-things-SAFECON from Alex's unique perspective. You may not get some of the inside stuff, but it's a fun read: PGNN News - News from SAFECON 2013   
 
Enjoy!
 
  
Sunday started out as a sun day, but within a few hours the overcast blotted out the blue and we were left with gray skies and light winds.Our host family, Mike and Denis McFarland - who have opened their giant home in London OH about 30 minutes west of the airport, invited us to join them for Sunday services at the Linworth Baptist Church. Pastor Brent Miller recognized the team as we shared communion with a wonderful group of believers. As it turns out the Pastor Emeritus George Hattenfield was a former pastor at Cedarville college where Pastor Jeremiah went to college and where his father was the Chancellor! 
 
Sunday is the day before official competition starts. It is also the day each of our pilots have a chance to spend time in the simulators for the Ground Trainer, IFR, and Crew Resource Management events. Time spent familiarizing themselves with the instruments, switches, checklists and nuances of the simulators from Ohio State University is essential because each one uses pitch attitudes, power settings and trim adjustments different from any sim our students are familiar with. Blandy Castro and Sean Conlan each had 15 minutes to practice - and that was it! Next time they see the sim, they will be flying a complex, demanding instrument pattern with constant-speed climbs, turns and descents that are timed and scored based on accuracy and errors. 
 
Mike Elm and Dylan Jones worked in a Frasca Beechcraft Baron Simulator set up similar to our Redbird Simulator at Gillespie Field except it had dual controls. CRM - Crew Resource Management tests the pilots ability to work together as a crew of an airliner, managing their resources to solve problems introduced by the judge. They had 30 minutes to become familiar with idiosyncrasies of the simulator, and fly an instrument approach. 
 
Mike Elm will be competing in the IFR - Instrument Flight Rules event which is an instrument flight where the judge requires them to track courses, enter and exit holding patterns and fly an instrument approach to a "go around" - and hold. The scoring is brutal and demands very disciplined instrument procedures. 
 
Due to the TFR - Temporary Flight Restriction for Obama's commencement speech at OSU, we could not fly between 10am and 3pm. So we got one landing slot to practice spot landings before the TFR and Dylan Jones was able to snag a slot afterwards while Colonel Steve Geary checked him out in the rental airplane. 
 
We then took off and flew all the planes to the Madison County Airport - about 30 miles west to practice landings and Message Drop. We asked the McFarland family to join us and we gave them rides in my airplane - the Cessna TR-182 "N79MR." It was such a joy to see how thrilled these youngsters were for their first plane ride. The McFarland family is a mixed family of natural and adopted children from all over the world. They will become missionaries in September for The Masters and manage an orphanage in Morocco upon completion of their training next spring. So it was a special treat to see the excitement as I challenged each one of them to be the first to spot their house from the air! 
 
 
SAFECON always begins with a contestant briefing at the college. Three hundred plus competitors from the top 33 aviation colleges in the country filled the room. The highlight of the briefing is always the roll-call. While some colleges meekly announce "here" or "present" - your SDCC Hawks worked hard into the night creating the most ingenious, creative skit of the entire auditorium at the Ohio State University Union building. Here, for your enjoyment are the words to the song sung by your SDCC Hawks, to the tune of Amazing Grace, accompanied by Jackson Judge playing Coach Jill Geary's mandolin. We have a video which we will try to share as we have time to upload it. The lyrics were penned by Sean Conlan IMC refers to instrument conditions, E6B is a circular slide rule we use for aviation, TFR is restricted airspace strictly prohibited - punishable by prison time: 
  
Amazing Tower, how sweet the sound,
That saved a pilot like m
e...
   
I once was lost but now am found,
Accidentally flew in IMC
 
T’was landing that taught my heart to fear
And diapers my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The moment I first pee-pee’d.

The Staging Judge was good to me
When I forgot the keys.
I haven’t slept, at all this week
Without my E-6-B.
   
 
 Through many dangers, toils and snares 
 We have already come
T’was I that broke the TFR
Now the 
Air Force is after m
e!
 
 
Amazing tower how sweet the sound 
That saved an inmate like me
I once was lost but now am found
Locked away in cell block “C”.
 
 
Believe me when I say it was the best of all and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the effort. Thanks to the whole team for their effort. I push them to be creative and to say something memorable and this song was perfecto and received a rousing ovation! 
 
After roll call the ground training began with the first group of 5 going in for the Computer Accuracy event with their E6B computers. It's actually more of a round slide-rule type calculator. (Hence the reference to the E6B in the song). With the E6B they solve navigation problems, weight and balance, make conversions and plan flights the old fashioned way - no computers, no internet, no electronics. Memorizing and practicing all the formulas is tedious work and I commend Bryanna Raue for doing her best to help train our contestants. Those competing were Jenna Sims, Bryanna Raue, Mike Elm, Alex Closs and Blandy Castro. 
 
ACID - aka Aircraft ID immediately followed E6B. Mike Visnovsky, Aaron Giannetto (not here), Bryanna and Alexander have worked hard scanning images from Janes All the World's Aircraft and going over hundreds of powerpoint slides in preparation for the ACID event. But it is really hard and they all said that no matter how much you study, the chance of seeing Mars melting exceed the odds of seeing one you studied! Contestants for ACID were Mike, Byranna, Alexander, Will Lowery and Mike Elm. 
 
SCAN is the most difficult event involving complex flight planning spawning questions of legality from the federal aviation regulations, and all sorts of answers that are dependent upon answers you've already calculated - hopefully correctly. Contestants for SCAN were Dylan Jones, Kayla Harder, Alexander, Mike Visnovsky and Bryanna. 
 
With that the competition was over for the day. Coach Steve Geary, Sean Conlan and I went to the airport to check Sean out in an extra aircraft we needed to rent for the Navigation event while the rest of the team went to dinner. We joined them as soon as the plane was tied down and concluded with a team briefing for landings scheduled for Tuesday morning and a final prayer for weather, health, safety and endurance. 
 
Tomorrow - Tuesday, the flying events begin. The weather is supposed to start out nice and gradually deteriorate to rain in the afternoon. We'll update you then. 
 
Please check out the "PGNN News wire" compliments of Embry Riddle's coach Alex Tamsing. He has a clever way of making fun in the midst of the serious competition that is both entertaining and goofy: PGNN SAFECON News and Parody 
 
 
Tuesday was supposed to start with the Navigation event but weather throughout the region precluded launching aircraft. So the judges switched to the Power-off spot landing event. The difference between "power-off" and "short-field" landings is that power is reduced to idle abeam the landing spot on the downwind leg. Pilots "drift" or coast to the zero line in the middle of the landing box which is 300 feet long. Short field landings simulate a power on approach to a short runway where power can be carried on final approach, but the airplane must land with power at idle, full flaps, and near the stall speed. On the difficulty scale, power-off landings are more of a challenge because once removed, you cannot add power back. Determining when to turn and how much flap to use is strictly a matter of experience borne of practice. 
 
All our pilots except Jackson Judge were able to complete their two landings. The conditions were not the best due to gusty winds and rain-squalls. Several times the judges had to put the event on hold when a thunderstorm rolled over the field. No way to tell how we did, but from our vantage point at least some of the landings looked very close. People said "today was a day of go-arounds" meaning, I suppose that conditions were bad for everybody. 
 
Dylan Jones, Jenna Sims, Sean Conlan and Kayla Harder finished their power off heats. Jackson Judge will be in the final group to finish when they resume tomorrow. Meanwhile Sean Conlan and Blandy Castro were able to compete in the Ground Trainer event. Ground trainer is a pedestrian term for flight simulator. Contestants fly a complex pattern at precise headings, altitudes and airspeeds while climbing and descending at a constant airspeed. It's harder than it sounds. Instrument pilots practice an "instrument scan" that keeps their eyes focused on the attitude gyro to maintain pitch (which controls airspeed) and bank. At the same time they use the attitude gyro to keep their wings level so as not to turn. That works great up until its time to turn, climb, or descend... Best description of this event is "eyes on a swivel - hands precise and quick." 
 
We still have a couple ground events scheduled. The IFR Simulator event is scheduled with Mike Elm Friday, as is the CRM Event with Mike and Dylan. Preflight and Safety Brief Event are also scheduled later this week.  
 
We are hoping the weather will clear enough to finish the Nav routes. The Navigation routes take a crew of two over a course of 5 waypoints covering about 100 miles so they need high ceilings and good visibility for about an 80 mile radius around Columbus. SDCC Hawks have 3 Nav teams: Sean Conlan and Dylan Jones, Jenna Sims and Mike Elm, and Jackson Judge and Kayla Harder. The forecast is for cloudy, rainy skies for the rest of the week. 
 
We won't know the results until the Awards Banquet Saturday night so as much as we would like to say our team is doing well - it is impossible to tell. Meanwhile tension builds throughout the week - as does fatigue. I suppose when the two peak - sometime around Friday evening - there will be a huge collective sigh of relief. 
 
The team drives out to London each night and cook dinner for themselves at the McFarland home. They say it is relaxing out there and very pleasant. But it's also a long drive at 0630 each morning. I'll go out on a limb here and just say I don't think the majority of them are "morning people!" But their spirits are high and they are staying strong. 
 
Included in todays pictures are some airplanes other teams fly. Most teams have their own fleet of aircraft - a few of us have to rent. It is an interesting mix of airplanes from the venerable "old" Cessna 150 with manual flaps (Like our beloved "Juliet" back in San Diego) to the modern Cirrus SR22 and the "STOL" Maule flown by Embry Riddle-Daytona. Our two "clunkers" from a local flight school are working ok - but flying an unfamiliar airplane in landings can be a disadvantage. 
 
Tomorrow they are supposed to start with Navigation - again - unless weather intervenes, then they will start the "Short Field Spot Landing" event. More on that later. Please pray for good weather and for our team to stay focused during this long week. 
 
Here is the link to the "SAFECON DAILY" - the daily journal published by the host school. In Tuesday's edition - see if you can find Dylan Jones waiting by his Red and White Cessna 152 for Power-off landings. 
 
 
  
 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow gets the idea of rain. The 1st and 3rd verses of his poem "The Rainy Day" applied to today's flying: 

   

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains,and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
 
Ok, it's raining - so we're holding out for tomorrow when Navigation re-starts! But today the teams were pretty much at the mercy of the intermittent showers that rolled across the field. We finished all the spot landings. Pilots in the Short-field landing event were Dylan Jones, Jenna Sims, Sean Conlan, Kayla Harder and Jackson Judge. In their debrief we learned they thought some did pretty well but some missed the landing box altogether. I was relieved to hear from Embry-Riddle - Daytona coach Les Westbrooks that many of the teams were landing short or long or doing go-arounds. So we didn't feel so bad.  
 
 
We've had to solve a lot of problems from not having our own planes here. Our Ohio State hosts have been gracious to allow modifications to rules that help make up for renting unfamiliar planes. 
 
Kayla Harder and Blandy Castro finished the Pre-flight event
 on a Cessna 152. Pre-flight is one of those events that you either have it or you don't. A keen eye for things out of place and out of the ordinary (like a rubber snake in an air vent) helps, but knowledge of what should be and what should NOT be on or in the plane is key to doing well.
 
Traditionally we meet with the other Christian Schools to fellowship and swap stories. Tonight we met with Liberty University from Virginia and LeTourneau University from Texas and we shared Mongolian Barbecue. The "rules of engagement" as LBU Coach John Marcellus said - were that no two teammates can sit together. It was a great evening and everyone enjoyed it. Tomorrowthey will start with Navigation. For an "official" update on the days activity, click on the link below to SAFECON Daily. 
 
 
Stay tuned to this station for breaking news!
 

 

 
Thursday morning started out with a plan to fly Navigation and finish another round of landings. NAV involves flight planning 5 legs based on coordinates provided by the judges and then flying them with precision, noting figures and features on the ground at each waypoint. The winners are judged by who has the least difference between their estimated time enroute and actual time plus the estimated fuel difference from actual fuel used. There are many other parameters measured by the GPS units onboard but precision and careful planning are key. 

 
The morning was beautiful but the results were ugly. Due to a change in the way the NAV waypoints were given, 11 of the first 19 teams were disqualified. Many people were confused by a procedure they'd not seen before. After a conference between judges, Team Advisors and coaches, they decided to scrap the first round and re-fly them. Before they could do that, the judges had to develop 3 new Nav routes within a 50 mile radius of Columbus (typically between 7-120nm routes) then give pilots 30 minutes to plan them. But they never got the chance to finish all the rounds. Jackson Judge and Kayla Harder flew their route near the end of the day, the other two were not able to get airborne as weather started moving in late in the day. Then, unfortunately weather precluded flying any more Nav routes for the balance of the day.

 
Mike Elm said his IFR Simulator event went exceedingly well. He was well prepared and we are hoping for a high finish for Mike. Later in the day Dylan Jones and Mike Elm went up to the CRM simulator and flew an odd scenario out of Hawaii. CRM is supposed to be a regular flight with two pilots who are given choices to make due to things the judge decides to throw at them - such as beginning the approach and finding out the weather is below minimums - what are you going to do now captain? Or flying from Point A to Point B and the "boss" sitting in the back changes his mind and wants you to land at a different airport than you had planned - what are you going to do now captain? OR when you find out the weather is barely legal to fly there - but it IS legal??? It tests the judgment and skills of each flight crew as they work together to achieve their goal and land safely with their passengers. They thought they did well, but like every other event, we won't know until the results are announced in the awards banquet Saturday night.

 
While all these events were taking place, rain showers were popping up here and there. The forecast for Friday was not good so we worried whether we would be able finish all the events.
 
 

    

FRIDAY MAY 10 "The End is Near..." 

 
Friday is usually the last day of competition. With weather threatening this morning, we hoped to finish Landings, Nav and Message Drop. As our pilots prepared, the weather stagnated between overcast and rain - finally giving way to rain squalls and wind changes. But not before the judges wrung their collective hands over which events had the best chance for completion. Which to run or which to abandon? That is the question...

 
We look at it like this: We came a long way, spent a lot of time, effort and money to compete in these games. Our kids want to compete. Wasting time while the judges decided which of us to allow into the fight was frustrating. It was finally decided that two rounds of Message Drop would be allowed and two rounds of Navigation would be completed after landings were done. 

 
Normally we would have 3 teams flying Navigation. Jenna and Mike Elm had already flown, but their round was cancelled and scheduled to be re-run after all the disqualifications the day before, due to a mismanaged waypoint calculation method introduced at the last moment by the judges. However, they were not able to finish the first round in the re-run and none of the results from their round were counted. Meanwhile Jackson and Kayla were the only ones to finish a round that would be tallied in the final results. Sean and Dylan never got airborne which was a huge disappointment.

 
Normally we would have 5 teams flying Message Drop - but it would be limited to only two due to threatening weather. MD is one of our strongest events and we almost always score near the top. This year Jenna and Sean were able to fly first, followed by Jackson and Kayla. Dylan Jones, Mike Visnovsky and Will Lowery didn't get a chance to drop - thus ending one of our strongest events without an opportunity to show our stuff.

 
By now the clouds and rain were bearing down and the wind picked up. All flying was cancelled shortly after noon and SAFECON was all over but for the shouting...

 
OSU does not have a viewing area to watch landings and message drop so there was no way to know how any of our teams did. With strong winds, message drop is difficult and we won't know the results until they are announced Saturday at the Awards Banquet.

 
Friday night all competitors went to the movies. Not just any movie. NIFA Council and sponsors had arranged a special preview of a movie adapted from a Broadway play called "Charlie Victor Romeo." No, it's not from Shakespeare. CVR is an acronym for "Cockpit Voice Recorder" and the movie, which was just introduced at the Sundance Film Festival, is a series of 6 vignettes of airliner crashes re-enacted with dialog lifted from actual cockpit recordings of doomed airliners. The movie was less entertainment, than an object lesson for crew resource management. Although painful to watch at times - partly due to bad acting, and partly due to the graphic realization that people actually died in the crashes portrayed, the movie was profound. 

 
You can decide how much so when it comes to a theater near you. It's definitely not for kids...
 
 
SATURDAY MAY 11 - THE END - THE GOAL - THE  AWARDS 

 
The beginning of any competition begs the end. With the struggle goes the glory. Some pilots love the fight, the struggle and the victory. Others are inspired by the glory and recognition. With Flight Team it's a little of both - but for sure, relief is welcome at the end of a long struggle that begins in September and concludes at the SAFECON 2013 Awards Banquet Saturday night.

 
Saturday is also a day of packing up, paying bills and taking care of business. All competitors met in Hangar 7 for the Business Meeting - the main reason being to select the site of the following year's competition. Hearing that Kansas State and Indiana State had pulled their bid, The Ohio State University was once again the default winner of the SAFECON location lottery for next year.

 
At 5pm we took our seats in the cavernous banquet hall at the St. Charles Preparatory School. This is by far the most elegant setting we've seen in 5 years of attending national championship banquets. Our SDCC Flight Team were dressed in their best as we waited out the guest speaker, NASA's SR-71 pilot, Bob Meyer, and a terribly mediocre dinner - just to get to the good part, the payoff, the results!

 
At last the moment arrives and they work slowly through each of the events. Finally, after what seemed like - way too long - we hear our first award for SDCC. In the Power-Off Landing event - Jackson Judge places 15th. Later Dylan Jones is cited for 13th in Short Field Landings. Jackson Judge and Kayla Harder win points for 18th place in Navigation. Michael Elm places 14th in the IFR event  and Dylan Jones and Mike Elm score points, placing 18th in the Crew Resource Management event.

 
At the end of the day, the national champion is crowned - and it is none other than Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott - for the second year in a row. It is comforting to know that the champion is from our Region and competing against the national champion makes us a better competitor. So we congratulate coach Alex Tamsing and his ERAU- Eagles for a job well done.

 
In recognizing the contributions of each of our team members, we always make sure the efforts of Bryanna Raue, Mike Visnovsky, Blandy Castro and Will Lowery are appreciated for the support they provide. When our pilots go out to fly, their planes were always serviced, shined, polished and ready - because Alexander Closs, Mike "Viz" Visnovsky, and Bryanna always made sure they were ready. It was a lot of pushing and pulling as each heat required the planes to be towed or pushed from their parking spot to the starting box. Do that 10 or 15 times a day with two airplanes and you can appreciate why Alexander Closs was voted by his teammates for the Outstanding Team Member Award! If we could spread the award around - it would go to our support guys to drive the van, plan the meals and move the planes - we'd give the award to all of them.

 
But with all that - how did SDCC compare with our peers? When the team packs were distributed, we found that SDCC had placed 17th in the nation - one ahead of our friends at Liberty University, and one better than last year. Above all, it was the best finish SDCC had ever achieved in its history of competition in the national championships!
 

 
 
Congratulations to SDCC Flight Team 2013! 

 
After congratulating our fellow competitors and thanking our hosts and friends, our excited, but exhausted Hawks retired to the hotel for a debrief of the events. Will Lowery picked up a cake and we all signed graduation cards for Dylan Jones and Jenna Sims who missed their commencement ceremonies today in San Diego. 

 
We also wanted to toast the anniversary of our coaches Steve and Jill Geary who humbly downplayed the importance of both Steve's birthday, and their 17th wedding anniversary - to spotlight joy for the Flight Team's success. We want to thank and congratulate Steve and Jill on their anniversary and to tell them how much we appreciate their love and dedication to the team's efforts. It was a good night, a great night! God is Good...

 
Sunday morning was all about getting everyone to the airport for their flights back to San Diego. By 5pm everyone except the coaches were safe and sound back in San Diego. Thus we bring to a close a successful, God-honoring competition season where we achieved our goal to compete to our potential, and to bring honor and glory to our Lord and Savior - and to San Diego Christian College.

 
What did the coaches do? Captain Jill went to help her sister during a medical procedure this week. Captain Breslin and Colonel Geary flew to Lynchburg Va. to tour the aviation facilities at Liberty University. Then they flew to Ionia Michigan to tour the School of Missionary Aviation Technology, then they attended the International Association of Missionary Aviation at Andrews College in Berrien Springs, MI. We hope everyone is home by the weekend.
  

 

Thank you for your support of the SDCC Hawks Precision Flight Team. Please stay in touch and consider supporting our team next year as we prepare our young pilots by testing them through competition in SAFECON.
 
Captain Denny Breslin
Advisor/Head Coach SDCC Flight Team

SAFECON 2013 - Slideshow - Click image below to watch

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