With all the flight events complete, Saturday meant no less pressure as the ground events pack enough of their own. Description of ground events will help you understand what is involved with each.
Although Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is one of the most prestigious aviation universities in the nation (often winning the national championships) the logistical support for this SAFECON has been underwhelming. Of the three SAFECON’s I’ve attended –all had far better organization. Not to beat up on our friends at ERAU, but frankly, we were looking forward to a first-class event. It has not exactly been so for reasons we can only imagine. For example, there is no central communications point to resolve scheduling issues, minimal signage to where and when events are located, no food or drinks available at the airport etc.
Problems with event organization directly affected the ground events yesterday as our preflight team was co-scheduled at the same time as another team. With events at the airport and campus, timing was critical. As a result, the events overlapped and were delayed all day.
Jenna Sims, John Crotts and Kyle Mayhugh showed up at the airport for the Preflight event at 0900 only to discover the Mt SAC team was scheduled at the same time. So they were rescheduled for 1pm only to find ERAU was there. With both of us having Preflight competitors in the SCAN event back on ERAU campus 8 miles away, they had to hold the SCAN event until our guys finished Preflight an hour later. The Preflight airplane was an R-182, similar to my own except mine is turbocharged with an Oxygen system. Even so we think we found most of the discrepancies in the 15 minute time period allowed per contestant.
SCAN – Simulated Comprehensive Air Navigation
Immediately after Kyle and John were finished I whipped them up to the ERAU Academics building for SCAN while Jenna did her preflight. Unfortunately the 40-question, timed event had already begun so they put Kyle and John in a separate room to do the exam on their own. Reports from the SCAN team of Kyle Mayhugh, John Crotts, Dylan Jones, Shon Northcutt and Jackson Judge are that they did well but the test was difficult. Tests are scored based on most correct answers in the least time. Immediately after SCAN, I whipped Kyle Mayhugh and Dylan Jones back to the Prescott airport to compete in the CRM event.
E6B Computer Accuracy
The E6B event is one we’ve been working hard on all semester. There are a number of questions competitors must solve using formulas they have memorized using the circular slide rule. There is a calculations side, which includes conversions, and there is a wind-component side for computing airspeeds, ground speeds, cross-winds etc. Our E6B team included senior Paul Martin, Jenna Sims, Sean Conlan, Bryanna Raue and Kayla Harder.
CRM – Crew Resource Management
Kyle and Dylan spent one hour reviewing the fight scenario given by the CRM judges who incidentally were our own CRM Coach Captain Jeff Satterwhite and Captain Jill Geary. CRM is an event where pilots work together on a flight to get their passengers to their destination – knowing full well that “something” would go wrong, requiring them to divert to an alternate airport.
Their flight started in Tucson with a landing planned for Phoenix. It was a complicated departure procedure requiring pilots to be very sharp to read all the notes pertaining to
altitudes, routing, and navigation. Pilots are not held responsible for knowing the systems of the unfamiliar airplane since it was a Piper Seminole – a twin engine aircraft – and few of the pilots are multi-engine rated. But the simulator was substandard by our measure, with a left turning tendency pilots had to fight the whole flight (not a realistic scenario in real life). There were some other quirks that made it difficult to operate the simulator - from the judges standpoint - that were frustrating for both judges and competitors. We will suggest in the future that the school providing the simulator have someone on staff to help run it so the judges can concentrate on the event.
Last year SDCC won two safety awards based on demonstrated safe behavior on the field as well as a safety presentation given to judges. This year Sean Conlan and Bryanna Raue put together a very nice presentation – which was an enhanced and upgraded version of our presentation at the national championships last May. At the last minute was asked Paul Martin to sit in and contribute because of his broad experience with the flights and experiences that have resulted in the changes to our SOP over the years. SAFETY Event judge, Captain Frank Maine, said the team had an excellent presentation.
END OF THE DAY
Another long day – but everyone is relieved the competition is over. It is stressful, but at the same time it is stimulating and unique. The CRM simulator didn’t finish until after 7pm last night so the team went out to dinner earlier and I took Kyle and Dylan out on the way back from the airport.
Sunday the team will attend church at the Willow Hills Baptist Church at 11am. Willow Hills was generous enough to allow our pilots to sleep in their gym from Monday to Friday, and loaned us a church van to transport our pilots to and from the airport, hotel and ERAU campus. We want to share our appreciation by meeting the church family who helped our Flight Team in Prescott.