Top Outdoor Spots on Campus

by Richard Santi

The Embry-Riddle Prescott Campus is covered with absolutely beautiful scenery. What’s even better is the fact that we get over 300 days of beautiful weather in Prescott. On any given day, students love to sit outside and socialize, do homework, or merely sit and enjoy the outdoors. There are a number of awesome spots on campus that provide nice outdoor spots to sit and enjoy the day.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Quad

One of the awesome parts about going to school here is that we have Wi-Fi coverage on pretty much the whole campus. If you want to do work on the grass or by the benches that are perfectly sun protected with awnings, you absolutely can! Though most people like to use the quad to throw the frisbee around or host some other recreational event when the weather is nice (which is pretty much all the time).

Center of Campus

We have a beautiful green space right in the center of a number of classrooms. A lot of students will hang out and socialize here until the next class starts. The large trees nearby make for great shade! There are a number of campus services located nearby, including the Cashier’s Office, Mailroom, Campus Safety, and our barbershop on campus known as the Hairport!

The Patio

Right outside of our STEM Education Center, we have a beautiful new patio that is great for hanging out with friends and waiting for the next class to start. It is covered with beautiful trees and has nice new benches that face each other so that you and your friends can interact!

Outside of AXFAB

Our Aerospace Experimentation and Fabrication Building is used by our Aerospace Engineers to complete their capstone projects. On the outside of the building, we have a large propeller which comes from a Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter. It was one of four propellers mounted at the same height it would be on the actual aircraft. It makes a pretty stunning sight to sit at one of the benches outside looking right up to it.

Patio Outside Student Union

Underneath the Embry-Riddle colored awnings outside of the Jack R. Hunt Student Union, we have an awesome patio area that is used by a lot of different student groups and organizations to host events. It is also a great place to eat lunch after going to our World of Wings Cafe or our Rocket Deli & Salads, both located right inside of our Student Union!

Arizona Adventures

by Richard Santi

A beautiful Prescott sky during monsoon season!

Hello again!

Prescott is home to one of the most unique cultures in America with old shops, saloons, beautiful trails and outdoor scenery unlike anywhere else. The old west charm and multitude of possible activities make Prescott an ideal place to explore, and a great location to fill your free time with fun adventures. Embry-Riddle truly has a great hometown.

Every once in a while, it can be fun to get out of town and explore the surrounding area, and Prescott lies in the very middle of numerous attractions that make great day or weekend trips. I want to share with you some of my favorites!

Jerome, Arizona

45 Minutes from Campus

Nestled on the side of Mingus Mountain, this old western mining town will bring you back to the prospecting days of the 1800s. Truly what is in my opinion one of the most unique treasures of the West, you can walk the streets totally unaware of what century you are in. It is home to numerous shops and great restaurants and is supposedly one of the most haunted cities in America! You could spend an entire day there, or even just drive in for dinner.

Sedona, Arizona

1 Hour 20 Minutes from Campus

The beautiful red rocks of Sedona make for a fantastic nature trip.

The red rocks of Sedona are probably one of the prettiest sighs you’ll see in the whole country. The unique geological formations are perfect for a cool nature hike, or any other outdoor activity. Everywhere you go, there is not a bad view. You could easily drive over and spend a couple hours taking it all in with your friends. Us pilots are especially lucky as one of our practice areas includes Sedona!

Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona

1 Hour 45 Minutes from Campus

If you are looking for some big-city fun, Scottsdale sits just on the northeast end of Phoenix and is home to fun restaurants, shopping malls, museums, and much more. Embry-Riddle students are incredibly fortunate to go to school in one of the prettiest natural areas of the nation with large mountains, forests, and beautiful prairies. However if you area city person, or are even simply craving a city adventure, America’s largest state capital is just a short journey away from campus.

Payson, Arizona

1 Hour 54 Minutes from Campus

On the ground at the beautiful Payson airport. A perfect destination for pilots.

This one is mostly for the pilots, as it’s a short flight. You could make it there in about 30-45 minutes, and the airport has a fantastic diner! You could rent a plane and easily make the trip with your friends to have a great breakfast while watching planes land. An added bonus is the beautiful forest that surrounds the town.

Grand Canyon National Park

2 Hours from Campus

One of the seven natural wonders of the world is just two hours from campus.

Perhaps one of the most amazing sights you’ll ever see is just a couple hours north of campus. It’s a great location for a day trip with friends, and there is simply nothing like it. Enough said.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

3 Hours 9 Minutes from Campus

Lake Havasu will give you the feeling that you are on a different planet!

Arizona is a desert state, but if you like water-skiing and other water related activities, there’s all of that and more in Lake Havasu. It is one of the quintessential spring break locations. The town has unique resorts and restaurants, and it is a popular flying destination for pilots.

Tucson, Arizona / Pima Air & Space Museum

3 Hours 18 Minutes from Campus

Some of the world’s coolest airplanes are on display just a few hours south of campus.

If you are looking for a cool aviation-themed getaway, the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson will make a great day or weekend trip. There is a large indoor and outdoor display with some of the industry’s most iconic airplanes.

There are many other locations around Prescott that make great adventures. These are just a few of my personal favorites. In Arizona you can make your own adventures, as every town and every mountain has its own cool charm. Adventure awaits you here at Embry-Riddle!

Just an Average Day…

by Richard Santi

Hello again! As a Flight Student at Embry-Riddle, I wanted to share with you what my average day looks like. I can honestly say that no two days are the same, and from week to week I am constantly working on a new challenge in flight training or classwork, so it is pretty hard to try and formulate an “average day”. For help, I went back and consulted the calendar on my cell phone where I keep my basic daily schedule. This day is modeled after a random Wednesday this past January.

8:30am-10:00am Flying Eagle Two!

I wake up as I do on most days when I am flying with a bit of extra excitement, though nowadays that happens about five or six days a week. My practice slot for flying Eagle Two starts promptly at 8:30am. As much as I love coffee, it is dehydrating so I will wait for my morning cup until after I’m done flying. I’ll have just water for now. I want to arrive about 20-30 minutes early so that I can look over the weather and see if there is any specific airport notes for the day. Plus I want plenty of time in the aircraft to make sure I can start my preflight aircraft inspection early.

As a member of the Golden Eagles Flight Team, we get a set amount of practice slots flying our specialty Cessna C150s. Part of our competitions are the competitive landings events, where our goal is to land with our wheels touching down as close as possible to the “zero line” (a line of tape on the runway). My personal record is 4 feet off, so I am still looking to my ultimate goal of touching down perfectly on the line. As simple as that sounds, the real trick to the competition is that there is a multitude of different penalties you can get, all related to not flying a perfect pattern. Penalties such as floating, dragging, ballooning, overshooting, undershooting, plus many more, can all be called against a pilot who does not perfectly manage the aircraft’s position and energy. A lot of practice is required to really nail down the technique. As much fun as it is, the practice slot I have this morning will be hard work requiring a lot of focus and attention.

I do my preflight inspection, hop in and start up. I am able to fit in about 12 landings before I have to call for a full stop. Overall, a productive practice slot.

10:00am-11:00am Heading Over to Campus

I finish my slot at about 10 o’clock and head over to campus. I go to Scholar’s Café in the Library to get one of their delicious cappuccinos… finally getting my morning coffee. I know my day will be a busy one, so I head upstairs and sit in one of the big comfy chairs by a window that overlooks campus for the next 30 minutes to relax and enjoy the view of Granite Mountain out the window. I review my Eagle Slot, thinking about what I could do better for next time.

11:00am-2:00pm Class

My first class of the day is AS.408 which is Flight Safety. During the lecture, we review a couple of different topics, but we spend most of the time reviewing a major aviation accident that occurred in the past few decades. We look at the NTSB report, and meticulously dissect what the pilots did that affected the outcome of that accident, either for good or bad. I leave the lecture with a new perspective on airmanship, as well as a lesson that might save my life one day!

I head to my next class which is AS.380, also known as Pilot Career Planning. Given I am a second semester Junior, it is an appropriate time to start thinking about how to plan for my career. Today we talk about proper etiquette and good strategies to have while doing an interview with an airline. Obviously something that will come in handy!

My last class of the day is AS.405, or Aviation Law. My professor is a licensed Aviation Attorney who always has something very interesting to talk about. In today’s class, we play a fun game of Jeopardy! to review for an upcoming test. One of the topics I find most interesting is federal airspace authority, and how different aviation businesses have gone to court when a state government tried to in some way regulate their flight operations, claiming it a violation of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. I leave class and grab a quick lunch before my next activity!

2:00pm-5:00pm Student Job

I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be a tour guide on campus, working as a Senior Campus Ambassador at our Admissions Office. There are tons of student jobs one can get on campus, from working in one of the academic departments, to one of the business offices, and much more. I have friends who are even dispatchers at the Flight Line! Today I’ll be taking a few families and showing them around our awesome flight department!

5:00pm-7:00pm Homework / Relax

I get off work with a few free hours, so I head on home and grab a snack. Depending on my homework load, I’ll spend the next few hours finishing up some homework assignments and projects, or study for an upcoming exam. However, it has been a long day so I watch a TV show to slow my mind down for a bit first.

7:00pm-8:00pmFlight Team Ground Practice

I had the awesome opportunity to fly Eagle Two this morning, but on the Golden Eagles Flight Team we also compete in ground aviation knowledge, something we are all required to participate in to earn our flying slots. For the next hour, I study some aircraft for our Aircraft Identification event (we also watch a cool airplane video to start each practice). There are roughly 3,000 airplanes in our bank of aircraft we study, so there is a lot of work that goes into keeping them all memorized. There are definitely some interesting facts I’ve learned about certain aircraft that I didn’t know before!

After 8:00pmThe End of the Day

After practice, my roommate Colin (also on the flight team) and I will go home and cook dinner, or we might go out to eat somewhere locally with a couple of friends. After dinner, the rest of the evening’s activities will depend on numerous factors. If I have a busy homework night, that might be what I end up doing, but most of the time I am able to get that done earlier in the day. We’ll usually go over to a friend’s place to hang out and just enjoy the evening. My first class on Thursdays is not until 1:25pm, so normally I might be able to sleep in the next morning. But tomorrow I am going on a training flight with my instructor and we’ll be practicing commercial maneuvers, so I go to bed to make sure I am well rested for the fun day of flying I’ll have tomorrow!

Spread Your Wings at Embry-Riddle

by Richard Santi

Hi Everyone! My name is Richard Santi and I am currently a Senior at Embry-Riddle in Prescott. I am majoring in Aeronautical Science – Fixed Wing, with a minor in Business Administration. On campus, I am a member of our national championship winning Golden Eagles Flight Team, and work as a Senior Campus Ambassador at our Admissions Office (If you come and visit campus, I might be your tour guide)! 

I am incredibly excited to be sharing a bit about my experience at Embry-Riddle with all of you, and will be writing to you regularly, so be sure to check back! I wanted to start off by introducing myself a bit more and sharing with you my journey to Embry-Riddle. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in the Chicago area. From a young age, my eyes were always turned skyward, and I could only dream of one day working in the cockpit of an airplane. When I was looking at colleges that had aviation programs, only one stood out to me as the very best. I asked different people who were in the aviation business what school they suggested, and the answer was almost unanimous. “Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.” Without a doubt. 

I have always been a Midwesterner. Most of the landscapes I was used to were farms and skyscrapers. But after all, college is a time for adventure and I was very excited to see a new place for a few years, moving to the beautiful mountains of Arizona. I moved to Prescott in the summer of 2017. I only had about 4 flight hours in my logbook; virtually nothing. No real flight training or formal flight education. Despite this, I flew my very first week here. The first lesson was incredibly simple. How to turn the aircraft left and right using proper rudder coordination. I remember feeling very comfortable, knowing this is what I was meant to do, but I also remember the feeling that I had a long way to go.   

As it turns out, a long way is not so long when you are training at Embry-Riddle. Three more years of flight training and now I am a licensed Commercial Pilot. I have over 270 hours of flight time and have flown in collegiate flying competitions. I have a job offer from a major regional airline and plan on starting flight instructor training soon. I have learned about topics I knew pretty much nothing about before coming to college. Extensive details of aircraft systems, how the stability of the atmosphere affects thunderstorms, the detailed aerodynamics of a tailspin… All topics I had literally zero understanding of prior to coming to Embry-Riddle. All of this was done while simultaneously earning a college degree.

The reason I am mentioning all of this is that I wanted to let you all know that as I post my future blogs, I will be explaining in detail all of my cool experiences at Embry-Riddle, whether it is going through flight training, being on the flight team, or hanging out with friends and enjoying all of the awesome scenery that Prescott has to offer. But really, the main point I would like you to take away from my experience is that whatever you do here, you will learn way more than you thought possible. You will gain way more skills than you thought possible, and you will become someone ready to succeed in whatever field you go into. You will do all of it while having a blast! 

I look forward to sharing more with you!

Aiming for Space with a Fully Reusable Rocket

Hi, I’m Cooper Eastwood, a rising Sophomore Aerospace Engineer focusing in Astronautics. Throughout my first year at Embry-Riddle I was given the opportunity to construct a suborbital launch vehicle alongside Gaurav Nene. My story, as well as many other Embry-Riddle students, begins long before attending college. I have been on the journey to reach space since my early days of high school and my passion has brought me very close to my goal. Through the Undergraduate Research Institute’s backing and Dr. Michael Fabian’s support we are swiftly approaching a final launch date. Our project, the Embry-Riddle Suborbital Reusable Vehicle (ERAU-SRV) is centralized around the ideas of having as little oversight as possible, a small integrated team, and to radically change the way students pursue rocketry research.

Cooper (left) and Gaurav (right) working inside of the AXFAB machine shop.

The purpose of this research is to demonstrate the use of commercial propulsion and flight systems in a fully reusable launch vehicle for reliable low-cost access to space. The rocket, standing at 11ft tall, will be a testament to a cheaper and more frequent launch strategy than comparable commercial and university developed SRVs in its altitude range. Furthermore, the gross lift off weight of the rocket is projected to be only 50 lbs. and will reach apogee at 440,000 ft and reach a maximum velocity of Mach 5, pushing the limits for university level rocketry speed, altitude, and launch rate.

Here we are undertaking a new experience machining the very tip of the rocket out of titanium, the only part to be made of this rare material.

Nearing the end of the first semester the team invested weeks of testing for our onboard recovery and deployment system. This was pursued with the intention of establishing set up and take down procedures as well as a familiarity with the operations. These systems utilize barometric sensors, or atmospheric pressure sensors, to dictate velocity and ultimately deploy a parachute when the acceleration reaches zero. To test these systems in a controlled pressure environment we utilized the state-of-the-art technology in the Aerospace Experimentation and Fabrication Building (AXFAB) and the new Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) building. After talking with professors and the EagleSat club, we operated the vacuum chambers located in both buildings to simulate high altitude atmospheric conditions. While referencing testing safety standards, we placed the battery and telemetric flight computer into the vacuum chambers and conducted more than thirteen tests over three weeks.

This is the inside of the AXFAB vacuum chamber with the electronics system on an improvised tray. This is where a majority of tests took place, assisted by the sensors inside which gave us pressure readings.

The data we gathered included: voltage outputs of two black powder ignition wires, barometric accuracy, programming and data quirks or anomalies, GPS signal lock strength and tracking, and gyroscopic orientation sensitivity. Both excited and confident with the positive testing results, I compiled our outcomes into an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) formatted paper which was then published into their most recent journal. After the full paper’s submission, we were accepted to speak at the AIAA Region IV conference at the University of Portland and given thirty-minutes of stage time. We were looking forward to spending two days at this conference in late March and discussing our findings as well as our greater project ideas with our peers. However, this was cancelled due to COVID-19 and will be rescheduled in late 2020.

The purpose of making a procedures checklist is to cut down human error. This is especially useful for the day of launch because of anxiety, or what’s called “go fever”, can lead to detrimental mistakes. Sticking to a script and lots of practice is the best way to mitigate errors. Most corporations have entire teams dedicated to their operations; there they hammer out all the kinks in the road from construction to launch. Launch operations is vital to any rocket’s success, so we have started as early as possible to ensure a smooth launch and to maintain professionalism in the heat of the moment.

Our hands-on work was recognized with a photoshoot for investors. Here we are using a manual machine utilizing the skills learned with our time at AXFAB.

Our design had been completed in October of 2019 and we sent our manufacturing requests to AXFAB. This is where our aluminum components can be machined to AS9100 standards. Starting the beginning the second semester, we dedicated hours a day to work in AXFAB’s machine shop to help speed things along and adjust designs where necessary. Being a two-person team, we both had the knowledge and authority to request parts to be manufactured. Both us and Dr. Fabian believe in a small team approach to this work so we can easily streamline part alterations where necessary, without having to meet up and approve of every detail. With hours a day for a few months being dedicated to machine shop time we found ourselves learning tricks of the machining trade from Jared Vanetta, the machinist, in AXFAB. He has been integral in our manufacturing process as well as a mentor in our designs. The hands-on experience we got were unparalleled in any other classroom study and I found myself sitting in on a ME300 machine shop lab.

After discussions with Dr. Sensmeier and Dr. Fabian we incorporated our URI project into an official class: AE 399, a 3-credit course. It gives us an opportunity to finish the project on campus over summer while earning credit that counts toward our degrees. This was a great moment for us as our extracurricular time and effort spent was recognized by our professors and department.

The hands-on approach by professors certainly accelerated this project’s success. I find myself getting more interested in engineering every day and I hope to pursue this as a lifelong career. A note to incoming students; if you have a great idea and a goal, you can really go far with the College of Engineering’s dedication to their students and with the backing of URI.