SDCC Flight Team Sunday SAFECON 2011 Regional Championships
Today was the final day of competition for the Region II collegiate flying championships. In many ways it is a relief for it to be over. Long hot days in the sun make the week seem longer than it was. So it was with great anticipation that we began this day. On one hand, the pressure of a 4-day competition is draining and our pilots are tired. On the other hand the last day is a short one and the end is in sight. More importantly however, Message Drop is both a fun event - and can be worth valuable critical points in the overall standings. So it is taken seriously - even though it is so much fun you forget that it is also a valuable part of the competition...
Each team had 5 crews competing in Message Drop, consisting of a Pilot and Dropmaster. There were 6 heats of 5 airplanes with the first one launching just past 9 am after the judges briefing, aircraft preflight and positioning the planes in the "start box." Kyle Mayhugh and Chad Coyle were aircraft #2 in the first heat. As they took off and flew the pattern, the wind was blowing only slightly down the runway. Drift from a height of 200 feet was about 60-70 feet. Kyle and Chad's first box landed about 60 feet long. All the airplanes in the first heat dropped too late and their Message Boxes landed long. SDCC's was closest - for what it's worth.
Frank Razo and Aaron Penney were in the second heat and were also long on their drop. Several team's runs were disqualified for flying too low. One team flew over the field at 50 feet above the ground when they were supposed to be a minimum of 200 feet high. Our pilots tried to fly at 250 feet to make sure they were not DQ'd for flying low. Message Drop runs are flown at 100mph. The slower you go the more time to spot the target and figure when and where to drop.
Jenna Sims and Randi Cavalier were in heat 3 and Shon Northcutt and Jackson Judge were in heat 4. John Crotts and Sean Conlan were in the final heat and their drops were very close.
The day ended with the annual business meeting of all the students. The business meeting gives teams a chance to discuss shortcomings of the event and to plan for the following year. Next year the Region II championships will be at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott Arizona. The dates have not been announced but ERAU said they preferred the November or the February time frame. For them, like us, the January schedule this year caused our pilots to cut short their Christmas break to practice, and to miss the first week of school.
The only thing left are the results. As I write this the team has cleaned up, put on their best dress clothes and headed down to the Awards Banquet. In a few hours we'll know how we did. You should know however that your team kept a humble spirit, competed hard and were a great Christian testimony for their school here at the NIFA championships. An incident happened today when a lady bicyclist - on a ride unrelated to the air meet - smashed into the back of one of our cars out on the perimeter road while watching an airplane fly over and was slightly injured. It was the only incident all week long of any sort to mar an otherwise perfectly safe competition. Thank you for your prayers, your thoughts and for your support!
Stay tuned for the results!
Chad Coyle prepares to drop from 200 feet. Note the concentration!
Aaron Penney prepares to drop from the Cessna 152. His drop was about 60 feet long.
Shon Northcutt and Jackson Judge prepare to fly in heat #4.
Randi Cavalier prepares to drop. Jenna Sims is the pilot.
Jenna and Randi return from their Message Drop heat.
John Crotts and Sean Conlan before launching on the final flight for SDCC in
PCIFA SAFECON 2011.
Dominic briefs pilots and dropmasters before starting their engines for the final heat.
MD briefing - watching the drop from another team. They seem to be enjoying something - what is that? Sean Conlan and John Crott are on the left.