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!

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.









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












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!








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.







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










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!

Watch Student UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) Club

In today’s video blog, Colton gives you a glimpse into one of the most popular on-campus attractions for Riddle students… The UAS club!




For more information, comment below to get in contact with someone!

Stay tuned for more exciting videos about life at Embry Riddle and its surroundings.

Top Secret ERAU Secret You Must Take Advantage Of!

If you happen to be a Riddle student then there is about a 50/50 chance that you know something that many others don’t. Curious to know what I am talking about? Embry-Riddle started as flight school in 1925 and the training great pilots continues to be a strong degree program. But, not only is ERAU a top flight school, it is a major contributor of graduates to the Engineering, Business, and the Global Security & Intelligence industries.

Why is being a non-flight student at a University with a flight program COOL? I can almost guarantee that any non-flight student knows at least one pilot. And, any student that is a pilot knows that you can include one of your friends on a ride-along during an instruction. You may think, oh well that’s not a big deal, but it is! To share the experience of flying with your friends is awesome!

Just last weekend I went on a ride along and took a couple pictures from the back seat. For someone who has only flown in the large 747 plane it was a hell of an experience. It was a great way to start off spring break and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The view in one of our practice areas.

The view in one of our practice areas.

So if you are a student at ERAU then ask your flight friends about it, and if you are an incoming freshmen then be sure to make friends with a pilot! And don’t worry about safety, the instructors at Riddle are pretty incredible. So be sure to take advantage of this experience that most of your friends at state universities won’t ever have.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned.

Flying from the right seat is weird

I have had a 2 flights this past week. Since I am in the CFI flight course, I get to do all the flying from the right seat instead of the left (which is what I have been doing for the past 3.5 years). Naturally, it all looks weird to me; like driving a car from the passenger seat. I feel like I am flying a brand new aircraft and learning my private pilot certificate all over again. It has been very challenging and sometimes my performance is not the best, but nevertheless, it has been fun. 

The cool thing about it is that I am beginning to look at every single maneuver I have done in a very different way. I am learning to break down every maneuver step by step so I can teach it to my future students. In fact, I am learning how to do the maneuvers better myself since I am breaking them down so much. I have a great instructor that is always motivating me and showing me really cool pointers along the way. That is what I hope to become this summer, an ERAU flight instructor. My instructor is so motivating and so friendly and knowledgeable that I cannot wait to be the same with students of my own. Embry-Riddle looks like a place that I would love to work for, at least until I get my hours for the airlines. Until then, ERAU is what I am looking to do.