A Flight Lead Student Advisor’s View From Above

by Martin Kurkchubasche

Me with my best friend Daniel’s 1975 Cessna 172M after flying IFR with him on a rainy day in San Jose, CA. He’s now a CFI at Purdue. Photo taken by my childhood friend turned professional photographer Meredith Williams!

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!

Photos from when I was observing a demo-flight when Cirrus was demonstrating the ability of their SR-20 aircraft as a possible trainer for ERAU.
A name tag for every position I work.

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!

The 2019 team from our Summer Programs Department.

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!

Team 3 Training Manager Dave Warnke and I taking off in Riddle 82 in 25-knot winds at Prescott, taken by Instructor Cameron Rojas through binoculars.

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.

My roommate took this photo of me relaxing on a bench at Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort after a long day on the slopes.

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!

My two research assistants Jake (left) and Daniel (right) testing out our VR equipment before the students get working on their virtual private pilot course.
Me presenting about my research at the Industry Advisory Board taken by CoA Advisor Merrie Heath.

Tips for Moving Off Campus

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After freshman year many students get what we like to call the “off campus fever”, essentially they miss the division between being at home and being at school. It is extremely common for students to consider finding a place off campus after freshman year. However, it can present many unforeseen problems as well. For example, sometimes the costs are way higher than expected and most places come unfurnished or perhaps a friend bails out on you at the last second. To prevent these common problems you need to have a solid plan. So here are some questions to ask and tips that will help you when you are trying to find a place to live off campus.

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1. Can everyone afford it even in a bad income month? (think about utilities, food, and fuel)

— get a spreadsheet together of everyone’s income and estimate the average costs for each month.

— Identify ways to save money like not getting cable or buying cheaper food items.

2. Is everyone you will be living with 100% committed?

— Confirm they won’t be on an internship next year.

— have the spoken to their parents about moving off campus?

3. Analyze what you will need

— what furniture do you have and what will each person need?

— do you have cooking utensils and if not how much will you need?

— mattresses are expensive and its best to buy one new, this can be a large unforeseen cost if you do not plan for it.

— do you need a car for transportation?

4. If you don’t have a car how are you going to get to campus?

— talk to people in your classes or mutual organizations.

— get to know who lives in the area you are planning on moving to, if you know them they can always give you a ride but, remember it will be at their convenience

5. Once you have your plan set up find a place that satisfies your financial and convenience needs.

6. Talk to the manager and apply several months in advance of the date you want to move!!! Off campus housing fills up fast, you are not the only one looking to move there!!!!

When all that is done sit back and wait, you will eventually get a phone call saying that you have secured a place to live. 🙂 It is not a hard stressful move if you are prepared well in advance.

embryAnd of course on-campus housing is always a good choice as well. You can’t beat the convenience of being on campus! If you have any questions feel free to ask us! Thanks for reading everyone!