Maddy

About Maddy

Sophomore

Aeronautical Science Fixed-wing

Major: Aeronautical Science (Fixed-wing), concentration in Airline Operations Hometown: Tustin, CA
Activities: The Golden Eagles Flight Team, Archery Club, Women in Aviation, ALPA Ace Club Favorite Class: Aircraft Systems and Components
Favorite thing to do in Prescott: Go hiking in the Dells
In my free time I… enjoy archery, hiking, rock climbing, and roller skating

10-Time NIFA National Champs!

The TeamRecently, the NIFA (National Intercollegiate Flying Association) National SAFECON Competition took place May 6th-14th. Twenty-five collegiate flight teams from all over the nation gathered at Ohio State University in Columbus to compete against one another in several ground and flying events. The events included Precision Power-on and Power-off landings, Navigation, Computer Accuracy (E6B), Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (SCAN), and Ground Trainer (Sim). As a member of the Golden Eagles Flight Team, I had the honor of representing Embry-Riddle Prescott and competing at this year’s nationals; and helping us bring home our tenth win since 1993!

Photo credit: NIFA

The week started out with the general contestant briefing on Monday at OSU’s Fawcett Center. Here, all competitors and coaches were briefed on safety procedures, rules, event locations, and everything else that related to the competition. “Roll Call” also happens at the briefing, where each school is called upon and some schools (including us) perform short skits or even dances just for the fun of it!

CA, SCAN, ACID eventsAs soon as the briefing was over, the competition officially began with the three core ground events: Computer Accuracy (CA), Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (SCAN), and Aircraft Identification (ACID). Each event consists of a 60-minute test relating to various aviation-based knowledge areas. Each team typically has five competitors for each event, and one alternate. First up was CA, which is a math-based event done with an E6B or CR flight computer. Next was ACID, in which contestants are given three seconds to identify an aircraft’s manufacturer, identification number, and common name. Last but not least was SCAN, which requires contestants to plan a flight of three or more legs and answer various regulations, weight and balance, and performance questions pertaining to that flight. I was the alternate competitor for SCAN.

Our SCAN contestants (Left to right): Maddy Mearsch, Chin-An “Johnason” Lin, Rachel Hutzell, Bella Batbileg, Ian McLellan, and RJ Williams

Our SCAN contestants (Left to right): Maddy Mearsch, Chin-An “Johnason” Lin, Rachel Hutzell, Bella Batbileg, Ian McLellan, and RJ Williams

Our ACID crew: Matt Hallock, Stephen Anderson, Ian McLellan, Victor Griffin, Nick Moore, and Connor McNicholas

Our ACID crew: Matt Hallock, Stephen Anderson, Ian McLellan, Victor Griffin, Nick Moore, and Connor McNicholas

Our CA competitors: Kevin Fickenscher, Sam Morris, Jake Cobian, Bella Batbileg, and Colin Kennedy

Our CA competitors: Kevin Fickenscher, Sam Morris, Jake Cobian, Bella Batbileg, and Colin Kennedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day two consisted of power-off landings, or OFFS as we like to call them. Despite some bad weather that temporarily put us on hold, we were able to complete all five rounds of OFFS. The main objective with OFFS is to touch the main gear down as close as possible to a white chalk line that’s drawn across the runway, called the “zero line”. The closer you are to the zero line, the better your score will be. There are several penalties that a competitor can get such as adding power or improper crosswind inputs. We had five total competitors represent us for OFFS, in which four placed in the top 20 out of over 100 other competitors!

RJ Williams in the “hot box”, ready to fly his OFFS

RJ Williams in the “hot box”, ready to fly his OFFS

Victor Griffin waiting out some bad weather. He got to fly shortly after!

Victor Griffin waiting out some bad weather. He got to fly shortly after!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the third day, some low ceilings put the competition on hold for most of the morning. However, the ceilings eventually lifted and allowed us to carry on with power-on landings! ONS are very similar to OFFS, with the only difference being that the competitor is now allowed to adjust power on each approach (this isn’t allowed in OFFS). The judges sure had their work cut out for them, but luckily we were able to finish almost all five rounds of ONS. In addition to ONS, I had the pleasure of competing in the ground trainer event with my fellow teammate Nick Moore. We each flew an eight minute instrument pattern on a FRASCA simulator, and we both ended up placing in the top five!

Ian McLellan, ready to hit that zero!

Ian McLellan, ready to hit that zero!

A judge watches the zero line closely Photo Credit: NIFA; Jason Kadah

A judge watches the zero line closely Photo Credit: NIFA; Jason Kadah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilot Ian McLellan and drop master Kevin Fickenscher about to compete in message drop!

Pilot Ian McLellan and drop master Kevin Fickenscher about to compete in message drop!

On the fourth day of nationals, we competed in message drop. Possibly NIFA’s most fun event, message drop involves teams of two: a pilot and a drop master. The pilot flies the plane 200 feet above the runway, while the drop master drops a container out of the window so that it lands as close as possible to a barrel on the ground.

On the fifth and final day of competition, we competed in Navigation (Nav). Nav was originally supposed to happen earlier in the week, but some bad weather forced the judges to delay it until Friday. For Nav, teams of two (a pilot and a planner) fly an assigned route, using exact coordinates to fly to and pictures on the ground that the teams must find. Grading is strict, with time and fuel graded down to the second and tenth of a gallon!

 

Pilot Johnason Lin watches planner Rachel Hutzell refuel after flying their route. Photo credit: NIFA

Pilot Johnason Lin watches planner Rachel Hutzell refuel after flying their route. Photo credit: NIFA

All nav routes flown during competition, shown on Google Earth! Photo credit: NIFA

All nav routes flown during competition, shown on Google Earth! Photo credit: NIFA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a long, eventful week of competition, and we were all very happy with our performance. After all events were complete, all that remained was the awards banquet!

NIFA team

Photo credit: Jason Kadah

Photo credit: Jason Kadah

We won!Saturday was the big day. We couldn’t wait to find out how we did, and if all the hard work we put in this past year payed off. The awards banquet was held at St. Charles Preparatory School in Columbus, in a huge ballroom. After dinner, it was time to announce the results. After much suspense, it was finally time to find out which school would go home national champions. The head judge announced this year’s champions: The Golden Eagles Flight Team!! We all stood in disbelief for a few seconds, waiting for the announcement to sink in. All those late night practices, and all those early morning, all-day Saturday practices had paid off. Almost all our team competitors placed in the top twenty or the top ten in each event, and we were also privileged to win the judges trophy! In addition, we took home first place in overall ground events and third place in overall flight events. As we all hugged each other and as congratulations were said, we felt absolutely overjoyed to take home GEFT’s tenth national championship. Not only did we return national champions, we returned as the most “winningest” collegiate flight team in history. Here’s to this year’s NIFA National SAFECON, and here’s to bringing home number eleven next year!

For more about NIFA, check out: www.nifa.aero

For a full list of results, check out: https://nifa.aero/wp-content/uploads/SAFECON-2016-Results.html

And be sure to “like” our Facebook page!

NIFA

A Day in the Life of a Golden Eagle!

Ever since its formation in 1979, The Golden Eagles Flight Team (GEFT, for short) has strived for academic excellence and competitive superiority. As an active member and Public Relations officer, I am truly honored to be a part of a legendary team that has won 9 national championships and 29 consecutive regional championships!

A Brief Background:
GEFT is a competitive intercollegiate flying team that competes with several other collegiate flying teams across America. The competitions are hosted by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, or NIFA (check out nifa.aero for more info). We practice and compete in several events, both ground events and flying events. Core grounds events include SCAN (Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation), CA (Computer Accuracy), and ACID (Aircraft Identification). SCAN consists of a timed, 50 minute tests that involves completing a full flight plan (typically at least 3 legs) and answering regulation questions from memory. CA also consists of a timed 50 minute tests that involves the use of an E6-B or a CR-6 manual flight computer used to answer primarily mathematical questions. Finally, ACID consists of identifying 60 random aircraft, with only 3 seconds to look at each aircraft (ACID participants need to be able to identify thousands of aircraft in total!). Other ground events include Crew Resource Management (CRM), Ground Trainer, IFR, and Preflight. Our flying events include precision power-on and power-off landings which are flown in our two 1965 Cessna 150s (Eagle One and Eagle Two), a navigation event flown in ERAU’s Cessna 172’s, and message drop (yes, we drop things out of airplane windows!). Personally, I participate in SCAN, ground trainer, preflight, power-on landings, and navigation.

Each week, we hold practices on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. However, the most important practice we get each week is on Saturdays, when we hold a day-long practice at the flight line in order to practice both flying and ground events. I’ve documented one of our typical Saturday practice so you can get a glimpse into what it takes to be a national champion. Without further ado, here’s a day in the life of a Golden Eagle!

0700: The day begins with a briefing lead by our captain, Victor Griffin. He goes over our schedule for the day, and our Co-Captain Sam Morris also goes over a few things before we get started.

 

0700

 

 

 

 

 

 

0800: First off on the agenda is the navigation event! My partner and I were the first team to fly the nav for the day.

0800As the planner, I get to plan our route before heading out to the plane.

 

 

 

 

0800 fuel checkChecking the fuel before we get going!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nav partner

My nav partner Connor McNicholas is ready to go

 

 

 

 

 

above West PrescottOut and about to the West of Prescott

 

 

 

 

 

BackAnd we’re back!

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for fuel truckWaiting around for the fuel truck. And then refueling after our nav

 

 

 

Refueling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1100: Time to practice some power-on landings! I head out to the line to wait for my slot and judge other teammates’ landings.
LandingsRJ Williams judges landings next to 21R. Hit that zero line!

 

 

 

 

 

Selfie with team!Selfie next to the line with my teammates!

 

 

 

 

 

My turn to landNow it’s my turn to land! While taking off in Eagle Two, I accidentally photobombed Ryan O’Connor’s selfie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last landingsThe last couple flyers wrap up landings for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

1300: Time for lunch!

Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

1400: Now it’s time to take the SCAN test!

SCAN test

 

 

 

 

 

 

1530: As practice comes to an end, Victor Griffin and Sam Morris debrief us on our performance throughout the day.

Debrief

 

 

 

 

 

But wait, there’s more!

1600: After debrief, I have one more event to practice: ground trainer. A few teammates and I head over to the sim building to get some practice. Flying this week’s sim pattern in the ground trainer

Sims

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s a wrap! I hope this offered a good glimpse into a typical Saturday practice, and what it takes to be a national champion. For more information on the Golden Eagles Flight Team, check out www.flygoldeneagles.com, and be sure to like our Facebook page for updates on this Spring’s national competition in Ohio. Go GEFT!

Join Me in My Journey Through College!

Hi everyone! I’m Maddy and I’m beginning my sophomore year here at ERAU Prescott. I’m an Aeronautical Science (Fixed-Wing) major with a concentration in Airline Operations, minoring in Meteorology, and I’m currently working toward my commercial pilot’s license. All my life I’ve been in love with all things aviation, and it’s my dream and goal to fly for a major airline such as Southwest. Being at Embry-Riddle has been an amazing experience so far, and I’m so proud to say that I’m attending the most well-known aviation university in the world.

Me in front of our competition Cessna aircraft

Me in front of our competition Cessna aircraft

I grew up in sunny Orange County, California, and I’ve got to say Prescott is just as scenic as the coastlines of SoCal. At first, it was tough going from sea level to 5000 feet, but now I can say that I’m fully adjusted to the mile-high city. It seems like just yesterday I was transitioning into life at Embry-Riddle Prescott. Time has truly “flown” by! (pun intended).

Besides taking classes and flight training, I’m also a second-year member of the Golden Eagles Flight Team, a member of the APLA Ace Club, a member of Women in Aviation and a member of the Archery Club. There’s never a dull moment in my life, but that’s just how I like it!

I personally invite you to follow me on my sophomore year at Riddle. I’ll be sharing more about my activities and adventures in the near future, so you can see what life is like here at Embry-Riddle Prescott. Let’s embark on this journey together!