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!

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.

FTP Starts Now!!

 

If you join Air Force ROTC at Embry Riddle and you decide to continue in the program to become an Officer in the Air Force then you will go through Field Training Preparation (FTP) during the spring semester of your sophomore year. FTP, is exactly what it means, training to succeed in field training. It lasts the entire Spring semester and like other Air Force ROTC activities it runs concurrently with your schooling.

The overall goal of both FTP and Field Training is to mold you into an Officer of the United States Air Force. As I am now a sophomore it is my turn to go through FTP and Field Training. I am very excited to see what this new section of Air Force ROTC holds for me and I am also eager to attend Field Training as this will get me one step closer to my dream. I will let our reader’s know from time to time how things are going but, for now, I’m looking forward to the future and its challenges! Wish me luck!!

If you are interested in ROTC at Embry Riddle please click here for more information. Please comment with questions and I will do my best to answer them. Thank you!

Fitness

Fitness is a huge part of being a cadet at Embry Riddle and also at any ROTC detachment or service Academy. If you plan to attend our University and be a part of either our Air Force or Army ROTC Detachments then you must be above the rest physically.

Embry Riddle Prescott is actually a pretty unique school that can really help you with your fitness. We have several fields, running trails, a track, gyms, a cardio room, and so much more to help our students stay in shape while they attend school here. The facilities are open to all students and you may use them at your leisure. The big difference about this University as compared to others is that we are actually about a mile above sea level in elevation here.

As a result of the elevation less oxygen is available so when you work out you are strengthening your lungs immensely. When you go to lower elevations you will then have an edge on other athletes because your lungs are so much stronger!!

This is also helpful if you are in ROTC because there are numerous facilities for you to work out in and build yourself up so you can perform well in PT. Adjusting to the elevation is a huge part of how you perform at this University in ROTC so the sooner you adjust the better, but be careful you can get sick or feel weak when working out here at first. It is normal just don’t overdue it and you will be fine. A slow adjustment is better because you work up to it over time and you don’t get sick from it 😀

Whatever you like to do to stay in shape we can accommodate you here!!

Air Force ROTC at Embry Riddle Prescott

Tadah! I’m here again and my new topic is Air Force ROTC at Riddle. As I’ve mentioned before I am a freshman cadet on the Prescott campus and I am loving my experience in the Air Force and in college so far. I just thought it would be nice to give you an insiders look at what a week as a GMC (General Military Cadet) is like.

The first thing you need to know is how the Cadet Wing works, there are POC (Professional Officer Candidates) and GMC. The GMC are the lower class and are typically freshman and sophomores in college while the POC are juniors and seniors who have already gone through field training and are simply waiting for life as an officer in the Air Force to begin.The POC must be saluted by the GMC as they are the people running the cadet wing and training us to be officers. Even more important above the POC is the cadre, these guys are awesome!! They teach everyone to be an officer and they make sure we get all our things done on time.

POC Cadets selected to be future pilots in the Air Force

 

The average week for a GMC cadet is as follows: Tuesday:  get up and go to PT. Wednesday: go to Leadership Laboratory where you learn to be a leader and get amazing opportunities to meet people and get involved in the community. Thursday:  get up and go to PT. And at some point during the week you might have a flight drill and ceremonies practice, extra PT or a meeting about a flight goal that you want to accomplish. Additionally, you must attend an Air Force class to learn about the Air Force and explore what a career in the military means to you.  Its pretty simple and exceedingly fun/rewarding.

There are also AFROTC groups you can be apart of if you wish to get more involved or to become a better cadet. Some of these are Honor Corps, with the 3 teams which are described in my blog entitled “SCIDM- Honor Corps”, Arnold Air Society (these guys are cool), and Silver Wings (an affiliate of Arnold Air Society). All of these groups teach discipline and perfection; so if you are looking to succeed in AFROTC then joining one of these groups would be great for you!

One final note that I must point out is that I urge you if you are even moderately interested in the Air Force, please try out AFROTC if you get the chance. Dive in and give it your all, you may discover yourself living a dream that you had never imagined you would hold.

If you have any questions feel free to ask!!

SCIDM- Honor Corps

 

Hey there I just got back from a cool competition that Air Force ROTC Honor Corps does every year and I just thought I’d tell you a little about it. First off though I’ve got to tell you about the teams in Honor Corps, there are three: Honor Guard, Rifle Drill, and Sabre drill.

I am a member of the Honor Guard and we basically post and retrieve flags as well as doing other events for football games and flag retiring. Honor Guard has the most variety of all the teams and it is also the one that pay most attention to detail, if you plan on being in Air Force ROTC and you want your uniform to be perfect then please join Honor Guard!! Guard is a lot of work between uniforms and performances but it is very rewarding as all we do honors those who came before us in all branches of the military. For example, each year Guard performs a 24 hour vigil for veteran’s day along with the two other teams. Vigil takes a lot of training, time, and dedication but, it is an entirely rewarding experience as it allows you to experience a fraction of the sacrifice that our veteran’s experienced while serving our country.

The Rifle drill team spins (and occasionally breaks) rifles in variations of four to ten man performances.  Rifle team is definitely the more rambunctious of the groups in Honor Corps, but they put on an incredible performance which personally I could never do.  They of course, also help with vigil and perform at SCIDM every year.  If you get the chance to come by Riddle one of these days you can see rifle and the other teams practicing in the lower fields. Practices are exceedingly interesting to watch and we invite you to stop by and check out the teams. You might be lucky enough and get to learn a few moves with the rifle (it’s a fake one by the way so no worries). If you enjoy it then we definitely encourage you to join one of the teams.

Sabre team is the last team, they are the smallest of all the teams in Honor Corps but, they are pretty epic too. I honestly don’t think I could toss a sharpened sabre around all day and hope that my partner catches it properly. It takes a lot of courage and skill to do something like that in my opinion. Despite how dangerous it sounds almost no one ever gets injured so don’t fear grab a sabre and try it out, they are a lot lighter than the rifles that Rifle and Guard have to carry so if you don’t want to be holding a lot of weight Sabre is perfect for you!!  Their performances are also quite impressive, and they performed incredibly at SCIDM.

That’s all I’ve got for now but if you want to see some of our performances please feel free to look at the links below!!

Ten man Rifle Drill Team at SCIDM

Honor Guard Recruitment Video

Sabre Team

Update on Flight Training experience and progress

One of the greatest reputations Embry-Riddle has is our high quality flight training. As a flight student, I am training in state of the art aircraft and simulators to give me a competitive edge when it comes to applying for jobs with the airlines. I am glad I came to Embry-Riddle for flight training as the instructor’s take a hands on approach to helping you learn the various material and maneuvers required for the certificate or rating. As most flight instructor’s are former Embry-Riddle students, they are extremely knowledgeable, given their education. They can relate to you with flight training and with classes, since they have already gone through the Aeronautical Science degree program. I have enjoyed working with each instructor I have had throughout my flight training and have considered them friends as I have gotten to know them in my flight courses.

My instructor has prepared me well throughout this flight course to the point that I am ready to be tested on my knowledge and skills in the instrument rating flight course. After I submit the paperwork, I have 5 check activities to complete before I am an instrument rated pilot. The activities I have are an oral, a simulator, a flight, a final oral, and a final flight. I think that the oral is hands down, the most stressful check activity. You are questioned by a standards (or check) instructor on weather information, cross-country flight planning, aircraft systems related IFR operations, aircraft flight instruments and navigation equipment, ATC clearances, compliance with departure, en route, and arrival procedures and clearances, holding procedures, loss of communications and lastly pilot qualifications. This ordeal usually lasts about two hours. You are graded for each knowledge area on a scale of outstanding, good, marginal, unsatisfactory, and incomplete. I am definitely working hard to get all outstanding and good marks.

Personally, my favorite check activity is the flight. In this activity, I get to demonstrate to the check instructor that I can fly under instrument conditions and can land the aircraft safely after a successful instrument approach. I am pretty sure I will have to fly the VOR RWY 12 approach into Prescott and circle to land RWY 21L. Also, I will have to fly either the RNAV GPS RWY 12 approach and circle to land RWY 21L or the RNAV GPS RWY 21L straight in approach.

The VOR RWY 12 approach is probably the hardest approach we have here at Prescott. Depending on where you are coming from, you either arc, hold, or proceed straight inbound to the Drake (DRK) VOR. After passing the VOR, you are now on the final segment of the approach. This requires you to descend at about 1,000 ft/min as well as to check to make sure you are on course, make all the required callouts, bring the landing gear down, and prepare for landing. The most important part is to not descend below the minimums until you make the decision to land! If at any point you are unstable on the approach, you must execute the missed approach.

I am excited to almost be done with the instrument rating and to have received great flight training from one of Embry-Riddle’s exceptional flight instructors.