One of the best parts about being on the Flight Team is our landings practice which takes place every Saturday, starting bright and early in the morning! We start the day by driving in a van out to runway 21R at the Prescott Regional Airport. We have special permission from the airport authority to put tape down on the runway and mark our “box.” This is the area we will be trying to land the aircraft. One line stretches across the runway, which is known as the “zero line,” and is the exact point we are trying to have our wheels touch down on. One hundred feet short of this line marks being out of bounds short, and two hundred feet long of this line marks being out of bounds long.
The competition landings event is pretty straightforward. The pilot flies two laps in the pattern making two landings, trying to get the wheels to touch down as close as possible to the zero line. For every foot that the pilot is off the line, that is one point (points are bad)! It is actually split up in to two different events: Power-On and Power-Off landings. They are very similar with one minor difference. In the Power-On event, the pilot initially pulls power, and cannot add any power, but can keep some power in, gradually decreasing it until landing. In the Power-Off event, the pilot must completely pull all power while abeam the touchdown point and cannot add it back in without getting a penalty.
In addition to making an accurate landing, there is a very long list of potential penalties a pilot can get in the landing event. Some of these penalties have to do with the energy of the aircraft, some have to do with how the pilot flies the traffic pattern, and some have to do with how the pilot actually touches down on the runway. These penalties make the event incredibly challenging and force the pilot to fly very accurately.
After marking the lines on the runway, we will next bring out our two Cessna 150s, known as “Eagle 1” and “Eagle 2.” Throughout the day we take turns going into the aircraft and flying our respective slots. When we aren’t flying, we stand beside the runway with clipboards grading our teammates. Usually one person films the landing so we can slow the video down, looking exactly where the wheels touched to get an accurate reading. It is hard to see the exact distance with the naked eye, as in one second the airplane travels about 80 feet.
We of course learn a lot about flying by getting practice ourselves in the airplane. Doing competition landings really helps the pilot to get a heightened sense of how accurate his or her flying is. Being even just a little bit sloppy will result in massive points off of penalties and distance. I have to say, however, that spending much of the day watching other people land and seeing the view of a landing aircraft externally can be really helpful. As a pilot, you do all of your flying with an inside view, seeing references based on how the cockpit glareshield looks compared the horizon and reading your instruments. It’s easy to forget how the aircraft is actually flying.
Standing out on that field by the runway below a beautiful Arizona sky, watching an airplane make its downwind to base turn, and seeing how the wings gracefully glide through the air has given me different perspective on flying. Every control input the pilot makes will not only pitch the airplane up and down, or roll it left or right, but it will change the energy state of the aircraft in a very significant way. I look forward to every Saturday for this reason, wondering what awesome flying experience I will have.
Hi there! I’m Martin Kurkchubasche, a Senior studying Aeronautical Science with a minor in Aviation Business Administration. I’m from San Jose, California and I came to Embry-Riddle Prescott having already earned my Private Pilot Certificate with just about 100 hours of experience. This put me on track to graduate a semester early, December 2020 instead of May 2021. Throughout my time here, I have earned my Instrument rating and finished my Commercial Single-Engine training in our Cessna 172 fleet and am now in the process of earning my Commercial Multi-Engine training in our Diamond DA 42 fleet.
I am also a FAA-certified Advanced Instrument Ground Instructor and work as a Peer Counselor where I tutor students, endorse written exams, and for the past year I have taught labs for the College of Aviation. During the school year, there’s a very high chance you’ll find me in the Hazy Library until closing working with students. During admissions events such as Preview Day and Orientation, you’ll probably see me rocking out with our two awesome College of Aviation advisors Merrie and Stacey. I help create schedules for all you students and I make sure you end up with my favorite professors! For those of you reading this, we’re currently dealing with COVID-19. So, for any of my students reading this, I’m very proud of the work you all have completed as well as your adaptability and ability to deal with anything the world throws at us!
My involvement with our Flight Department and Flight Line is extensive. As the Lead Student Advisor for the Flight Department, I work one-on-one with management and help take suggestions students have and implement them at the Flight Department. As a student myself, I was always uncomfortable talking to my higher ups, which is why our department chair refers to me as his “feet on the ground”. I make sure students have someone they can comfortably talk to and share experiences, good or bad. I am incredibly lucky to be able to work with and call everyone in management a friend. If you’ve been at any of the admissions events, there’s a very high chance you’ve met and talked with me during the Flight Breakout Sessions. I have a great team of flight students that help me out and sit on the Flight Line Student Advisory Board and help plan student-led workshops on tough topics, and plan special events like socials and barbecues. I’m always looking for volunteers to be on the Advisory Board so swing by my office at the Flight Department and say hi!
You’ll also find me working behind the desk as a Flight Dispatcher and occasionally on a shuttle-run as a Shuttle Driver. I also sit on our No-Show Review Board where I take part in the determination if we should excuse a no-show or reduce costs of unexcused no-shows. The Flight Department always jokes about getting me a name tag reading, “Ask me, I probably know” because of the variety of qualifications I hold. I work on special projects, most recently having participated in helping choose the new fleet for ERAU, migrating our Dispatch team from a paper schedule to fully online, redesigned the entire shuttle route to make it easier for our students to make it from class to our Flight Line, and am currently taking part in helping select the new software to replace our Dispatch / Scheduling / Academic Tracking software.
I am on my third summer working for our Summer Programs Department, second summer working as a Housing Supervisor. I visit our office frequently because, quite frankly, I love the people I work with. I worked as a Teacher’s Aide throughout high school teaching 4th through 8th graders photography, so getting to teach high schoolers about aviation is probably one of the most fun things I’ve gotten to do. Also, shout out to Wendy, Shelby, Tori, Seyi, Logan, and Hayden over in the office! Hopefully I’ll see you all soon for the summer kick-off! I’m looking forward to my final year working with Summer Programs!
In my free time, I fly, believe it or not. I have over 300 hours of experience in a wide variety of aircraft. I earned my High-Performance and Complex Aircraft endorsements flying the most unique plane in the Prescott fleet, our 1980 Cessna 182-RG, affectionately known as Riddle 82. Sometimes I even fly two different types of planes in one day. One of the most memorable experiences was flying Riddle 82 in the morning with one of our Training Managers and going straight into Riddle 94, one of our Diamonds, with our Chief Pilot. If you ever see me in person, please ask me about it! There’s more that happened that’s just too much for a blog!
I’ve flown almost every Cessna 172 model from 1970 onward. I’ve done cross country flights to Vegas, up and down the California coast, and all throughout Arizona. Through my time as a Peer Counselor and my flight experience, I’d like to believe I’ve become an expert with the Cessna 172, but there’s always more to learn and experience. As students we never stop learning about the planes we fly.
When I’m not in the air, I try to stay active and take advantage of the weather we have. In Prescott, we’re about 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix on any given day, which means I can be outside year-round and not hiding from the heat. When the weather is good, I can be on our tennis courts hitting with my friends or relaxing poolside watching planes fly over. Sometimes I’ll make the dive down to Phoenix and hang out at the air-conditioned malls in Scottsdale. When it’s winter and we have snow, find me on the slopes in Flagstaff with my buddies.
As if I weren’t busy enough, I also run a research program with the Undergraduate Research Institute. This involves me running a brand-new virtual reality lab which is located at our Flight Department’s Simulation Center. The project was started by one of my professors, Professor Michelle P. Hight. I’ve been working with her from the beginning of the project and have become the resident student expert on flight simulation under VR. I have two awesome research assistants who I couldn’t work without. They happened to be two of my friends, Jake and Daniel. Jake and I were almost-neighbors freshman year, he lived one suite away from me in the Mingus Mountain Complex and I happened to be friends with his suite-mates, so I was always invading their dorms. Daniel is a sophomore who I met through my work as the Student advisor to the Flight Department and we immediately clicked. Our goal is to reduce the cost of flight training and hopefully play a part in reducing the global pilot shortage. I’ve presented at the Industry Advisory Board in front of many major companies. It’s only been our first semester working, and we didn’t get to do very much due to the on-going pandemic, but we’ve adapted and changed everything we’re doing. Right now, we’re designing an experimental course that will hopefully be offered by the College of Aviation in the fall! So, for all you incoming students, keep an eye out for the course offering and I might get to be your teacher!