While most students were still settling into the first few weeks of the Spring 2013 semester, members of the Golden Eagles Flight Team (GEFT) took off. Their destination: the regional competition in Salinas, California.
The competition was being hosted by San Jose State University and saw three other schools besides Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the host school. These five colleges were comprised of all the teams competing within Region II.
The five teams competed in 11 different events, four flying events and seven ground events. The flying events included a navigation portion where pilots were tasked with navigating a certain route while answering various questions and problems in-flight. The team did very well in the event. The top three spots went to ERAU teams with the highest scores by Andrew Nelson and Zachary Sargent.
The next two flight events were based on the ability of pilots to land within a specified part of the runway. In both cases, Embry-Riddle once again did very well with three pilots in the top 10 in both the powered and unpowered landing events.
The final flight event was the message drop. This involved teams flying at a certain altitude to drop a message canister as close to a specified target as possible. Of the four flight events, this yielded the poorest results for the flight team as they didn’t place within the top 10. Throughout these events, the weather was fair with morning winds blowing at about 15 knots and dying down later on in the day. The exception was for the landing events where there were slight crosswinds making the event that much more challenging.
The rest of the competitions are ground events. While ground events might seem counterintuitive for a flight team to some people, ground preparations are an important part of a pilot’s job, not only on the flight team but in general. There are three core ground events: computer accuracy, aircraft recognition, and simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation (SCAN).
For the computer accuracy event, contestants use an E6-B Flight Computer, an analog device used to aid in planning flights as well as flying. The flight team swept the event with the top five spots all going to Embry-Riddle.
The next event was the aircraft recognition event. This event involves showing pictures of various aircraft and having to properly identify the aircraft. Once again Embry-Riddle took the top five spots with one of the newest members, Victor Griffin, taking the fifth spot as well as being voted as the most outstanding team member.
The final of the three core ground events is SCAN. This event basically simulates the creation of a flight plan. The flight team once again sweeps the event, taking the top five spots.
The other two events were the ground trainer event, where participants used a ground training flight simulator to do an instrument only flight simulation, and the aircraft preflight inspection, where they had to find everything that was wrong with an airplane in a certain time limit. The flight team did well in these two taking first, second, and fourth on the former and third, fourth, and fifth on the latter.
Overall the flight team did very well in the competition, winning first place and sweeping up several major events. While it may seem that they’re on the fast track to winning nationals, Andrew Nelson said that “[we] need to do better”, explaining that while within the region they did very well, their results were mediocre when compared with what is to be expected on the national level. He emphasized the need for the team to be ready and focused for nationals, commenting on the fact that he has the utmost confidence in the team members so long as they can get past “competition jitters” and focus on their task ahead.
So next time you see a GEFT member in their dashing jackets, give them a high five, congratulate them, and wish them the best of luck as they practice, prepare, and get ready for the upcoming national competition.