One of the most exciting aspects of our aviation program is our competition Flight Team. It is our flagship to the community and the most visible “wing” of our program to the secular world. Our pilots who serve Christ through their ministry bring credit to our college with their testimony on the competitive field. We compete regionally and nationally and to the extent our pilots receive exposure to men and women contemplating attending SDCC for the education, we consider it a valuable recruiting tool as well.
Flight Team traveled to Prescott AZ Monday November 7 to compete in the Region II collegiate flying championships. 16 Team members, led by Captain Kyle Mayhugh are competing in 5 flying events and 7 ground events [see description of events on our website] to determine which teams will earn a bid to the national championships. The National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) SAFECON championships will be at Kansas State University in Salina KS next May. Team coaches are former Flight Team members Titus Dinkins and Mathew Belden. Team Advisor and Head Coach is Captain Denny Breslin – Director of Aviation at SDCC.
SDCC’s Flight Team competes in Region II, which includes California, Nevada and Arizona. We will be competing against the host school, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Cypress College, Orange Coast College, Mt. San Antonio College, San Jose State University and the US Air Force Academy. The top 3 teams receive a bid to the national championships.
SDCC is the smallest college competing nationally. We have competed in the past 3 national championships in St. Louis MO, Terre Haute IN and most recently Ohio State University in Columbus OH. We are the only college flying their own aircraft to the competition from as far away as the west coast. No other college flies nearly so far as we, nor do they get to enjoy the incredible adventure of navigating and flying over the Rockies and across the plains. We have 40 students in our aviation program and 23 of them are on the Flight Team.
Monday Chad Coyle and Jackson Judge flew 2 competition planes to Prescott, to join the rest of the team for landing and navigation event practice in the rarified air of the beautiful Prescott Valley.
Competition started Thursday and will continue through Sunday culminating with the awards ceremony Sunday night. The weather is blustery with temperatures in the midforties during the day and dropping to below freezing at night. Wind chill could send temperatures into the freezing range when a cold front forecast to move through the region passes through on Friday.
The Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the host for the Region II championships this year. Our team assembled for dinner last night. Some flew, some drove, but all made it safely to the beautiful Prescott Valley. Two days of hard practice resulted in a tired but enthusiastic group of young aviators. With weather threatening to cancel some flying events later in the week, the judges moved the flying events to Thursday and rescheduled the brief for 0700 this morning – which is 0600 for our Pacific time zone students. So a long day and short night meant early to bed fore everyone.
We brought 16 competitors led by Captain Kyle Mayhugh. All the guys stayed in a gymnasium generously supplied, along with two passenger vans, by the Willow Creek Baptist Church. Thanks to them for taking care of our pilots.
The lady-pilots, including Penguins, Bryanna Raue, Laura-Beth Gathman, and Kayla Harder stayed in a hotel along with veteran competitor Jenna Sims.
Following the morning briefing, Navigation teams of Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones, Jenna Sims and John Crotts, and Chad Coyle and Jackson Judge flew their navigation routes in clear but windy weather. Paul Martin flew as our sole pilot in the IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) event. Pauls parents Brian and Naomi, drove out from Orange County to watch Paul compete in his final year. Later this afternoon Kyle Mayhugh, Alex Closs, Mike Visnofsky, Shon Northcutt and Dylan Jones competed in the ACID (Aircraft Identification) event at the ERAU campus.
We have the help of Captain Jeff Satterwhite (CRM coach) and Jill and Steve Geary (administrative volunteers) to help out and to share judging duties. Karin Murphy, Shon's Mom and her husband Mike also joined us in Prescott to watch her son compete. Tonight the team was treated to dinner by the Martin's. Food at the airport is non-existent and breakfast was not an option with an 0700 brief so they picked up fix in's for breakfast and lunch which were served later in the RV provided by Coach Mathew Belden.
It was warm in the sun but very chilly in the breeze when the sun went behind clouds. Temperature on the line today was 55 degrees with a 7 knot wind. Forecast is improving for the weekend but we still expect rain from a strong storm rolling into southern California today.
Tomorrow will be a critical day with landing brief at 0800 followed by all the flying events. They are going to try to fit short-field and power-off landings as well as message drop in tomorrow. It will be a long, busy day on the ramp. With conditions constantly changing, we pray that our practice time will prove valuable in this high-desert, high-density altitude airport. Today the winds changed direction 3 times. Hopefully tomorrow they will be steady and light.
More from Prescott tomorrow. Please keep our young aviators (and their Advisor) in your prayers for safety, for health in the cold, for success in competition and for endurance in the face of accumulating fatigue over the long days on the ramp.
Tomorrow we brief.
Scroll over photo for caption.
Click photo to enlarge.