SDCC Flight Team Friday SAFECON 2011 Regional Championships
Today started out as another perfect day. Sunny, warm - almost too warm in the mid 80's. But all was not well in the skies over the LA Basin as the Navigation teams launched at 10am. A weather trough and strong upper winds picked up from the east at the altitudes the Navigation pilots were flying causing turbulence and excessive drift. A plane from one of the other teams turned around after flying into turbulence so the judges cut off flying competition this afternoon.
So Clayton Hawley and Aaron Varela were the first plane to launch on the NAV route. Their flight was uneventful but the used more fuel than they estimated which deducted points from their score. Nav routes are planned by the judges to cross over 4 lat/long waypoints approximately 20 miles apart. PIC's (pilot in command) has 30 minutes to plot the waypoints, calculate course, distance, time and fuel between each waypoint, and turn their flight plan into the judges. They check the planning over for accuracy and the PIC joins his copilot who preflighted the plane while the PIC was planning. Then they are launched by the judges on their route. Each plane is fitted with a GPS unit by the judges so when the pilots return, the data is downloaded by the judges and compared to pre-flight planning. Pilots are scored by how close their estimated time and fuel use was to actual time and fuel. They are also graded on how close they come to their waypoints.
Later in the morning Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones launched on their route. They flew one of 3 different routes planned by the judges. Kyle said they underestimated their fuel use by about a gallon. Although they did not encounter any severe turbulence, another aircraft airborne on a different route at the same time reported strong turbulence and returned to the airport without finishing their flight. That is when the judges cancelled flying for the balance of the day. Jenna Sims and John Crotts were scheduled to fly but were held on the ramp for several hours before the decision was made to cancel.
As we stood on the ramp - working on our tans - with a sunny, cloudless sky and calm winds, had someone asked us why we were not flying, it sure would have seemed odd to say we can't fly d we're canceled due to "weather"'. But as with all things aviation, we are often affected by what we can't see...
At 3pm we split up. Captain Varela, Clayton, Shon, Kyle and Jenna went back to the hotel to prepare for SCAN. SCAN is "Simulated Comprehensive Air Navigation" test. It is the equivalent of a commercial/instrument exam covering a comprehensive mix of information from regulations, airman's information manual, FAA publications, instrument procedures and a bunch of stuff somebody just comes up with! But seriously, it combines a lot of information to make a difficult test.
After SCAN, they will drive to Chad Coyle's home where his folks are hosting a BBQ for the team.
Tomorrow morning - early - all teams will meet for the Landings briefing. We'll start the day with Power-off spot landings and finish with Short Field spot landings. In Power-off landings, pilots must cut their power abeam the landing spot and fly a "squared" pattern to touch down in the 300' long landing box right on the landing line. Short Field landings differ from Power-off landings in that once pilots reduce power, they may not add power back if they are short - without penalties.
That is all for today. We're sharing part of our day with you in pictures below...
Waking up sleepy airplanes - red and white plane is SDCC.
Flight line and snow in the San Gabriel mountains north of KPOC.
Captain Varela and Clayton Hawley complete NAV with Coach Mathew Belden welcoming them back.
Clayton refuels 91E. Aaron Varela (copilot for NAV) observes. Pilots refuel planes to find out how much fuel was used in NAV route.
Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones refuel after NAV. Flights are graded on how close their actual fuel use was to planned fuel use.