Internship Experience: Fixing the Pilot Shortage at the Highest Level

By James Ritchey

This past summer, I had the opportunity to live and work in Washington, D.C. through an internship program offered by Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings.

I, along with a few other Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (AFROTC) cadets from around the nation, had the opportunity to work at and immerse myself in the Pentagon, working with a variety of different departments within Headquarters Air Force.

Despite being a Global Security and Intelligence Studies major, with interests in foreign and operational policy, I was placed in the Aircrew Crisis Task Force (ACTF), a special organization created to tackle one of the largest hurdles facing the current Department of Defense: the shortage of pilots and other aircrew members, especially at higher levels.

The ACTF is a special “matrixed” organization under the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (HAF/A3). Because of the complexity (and hopefully temporary status) of the problem, officers from around the Pentagon worked together to develop an actionable, lasting plan to ensure the Air Force maintains proper personnel levels for the coming decades.

I worked with officers from A5/8, the department for Strategic Plans and Requirements, A1, the department for Personnel, A3T, the department for training and readiness, and many others from a variety of backgrounds and skills. My office was headed by a one-star general, and consisted mostly of officers who had been in the Air Force for over 15 years. As a cadet who has not even been in the active Air Force yet, it was somewhat daunting to be around such high-level officers on a daily basis. However, I was welcomed with open arms, and quickly assigned tasks to complete.

While I at first did not have much interest in the subject or any skill in operational research, I was quickly on-boarded and put to work in developing budget proposals, contract requirements, and idea solicitation. On many occasions, I was able to participate in meetings regarding potential future programs for developing pilots, many of which would involve AFROTC detachments and aviation schools such as Riddle and the University of North Dakota. Despite my lack of experience in the operational Air Force, I was productive within the ACTF and actively helped develop solutions for the near and distant future.  

Along with working on solutions for the aircrew crisis, I also had the opportunity to branch out into some other areas of the Department of Defense. I had the opportunity to go to the State Department and sit in on negotiations for foreign weapon sales of American aircraft, as well as take flights in F-16D and KC-135 aircraft at nearby Joint Base Andrews. The USAF’s Light Attack (OA-X) experiment was a critical matter as well, and I had the opportunity to work on budgeting and congressional proposals for the acquisition and stand-up of its potential future fighter squadrons and Formal Training Units.  

The Pentagon itself is a massive building, featuring a multitude of shops, food courts, and people incredibly important to national security. I had the opportunity to meet several of these people, including USAF Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Lieutenant General Mark Nowland. It is rare to see anyone below the rank of Major (O-4) in the building at all, and even rarer to see anyone below Captain (O-3). As a cadet in that world, the experience and connections I made were unparalleled. 

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Heller 1/72 De Havilland Vampire FB.5 Model Kit

By Noa Brown

Although a rather old kit, the Heller De Havilland Vampire FB.5 is still a fun, quick build. The airplane recreated in this kit was the second jet fighter manufactured in Great Britain in the 1940’s.

The Vampire was then exported to many different countries including France and Sweden.

Despite its age, the parts were very well molded and didn’t show much flash. The interior detail was very basic and was painted with flat black and given a chipped effect using a silver pencil.

To make the model a little more interesting, a pilot figure from an Airfix kit was placed in the cockpit. The figure was painted with a silver helmet and a green flight suit.

The assembly of the airplane exterior was rather simple. The fuselage came in two halves that were glued together.

Before gluing the halves together, birdshot pellets were placed inside the nose to move the model’s center of gravity forward.

The wings fit snugly into the fuselage, and the two tail booms were separate parts that were attached both to the trailing edges of the wings and to the horizontal stabilizer.

Following assembly, a putty was needed to smooth out any gaps between the parts. The canopy was then masked using Tamiya masking tape and an Exacto knife before being placed on the airplane. 

Attaching the landing gear was rather difficult compared to the rest of the build. There were no clear attachment points for the gear doors and the gear legs were difficult to line up properly. To make matters worse, the pellets in the nose were not enough to get the model to rest on its nose wheel. 

With all parts of the airplane in place, the model was pre-shaded with flat black paint on its panel lines. The base coat used was Alclad aluminum paint and had an amazing metallic finish to it. However, in the areas where putty was used, there was a major change in the paint’s texture despite having sanded the putty extensively beforehand. 

The decals used on the model were for the French air force. They were from a set that came out of the box.

Despite the backing sheet having turned yellow, the decals held together perfectly well and were not discolored in any way.  They were placed on the model using micro-setting and micro-solvent solutions.

To conclude, this kit was an enjoyable build. Construction was very simple with only small amounts of work going into detail or assembly. This kit would be good for a beginner or for anyone wanting a fast simple weekend build! 

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Restaurant Review: Park Plaza Liquor and Deli

By Reece Cabanas
Chief Distribution Officer Restaurant Review: Park Plaza Liquor and Deli

Located just blocks away from downtown Prescott, the Park Plaza Liquor and Deli (more commonly known as Liquor Deli) is exactly what its name implies: a liquor store as well as a deli.

Walk inside and you will find the store also houses a collection of cigars stored in a humidity-controlled room.

The restaurant portion of the building serves American-style pub fare such as burgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, wings, and sides.

Dining tables are located next to shelves of alcohol in the same room, with more seating found on the outside patio.

The atmosphere is open and rustic looking, vaguely reminiscent of a classic English pub and American sports bar.

One of the more noticeable dishes on the deli menu is the wood-fire mac and cheese, which is made in-house from scratch.

Various toppings such as bacon, mild and spicy Italian sausage, chicken, green chili, and goat cheese can be added for an additional charge per item.

For the price the portion size is generous, able to serve two people or save for leftovers.

As with the mac and cheese, the pizza dough is also made from scratch.

Create your own pizza and pay per topping or select from one of 13 different combinations already listed.

If you go for a large, make sure to share with at least one other person as the size is what you paid for.

If you enjoy gourmet-style burgers, then the Liquor Deli is just for you.

Their burgers seem fuller and more bodied when compared to places such as Red Robin or In-N-Out.

There’s not much variety with only four options, but you can double the patties and cheese, as well as add bacon, avocado, and gluten free buns for an upcharge.

Their sandwiches are also a good choice with plenty of options that will cater to whatever your taste buds are craving.

The same can be said for the salads, though, I will admit I do not know anyone who goes specifically for them.

Aside from the restaurant, this establishment offers a wide variety of alcoholic products from both regional and international brands.

You can even request your beverage(s) of choice with your meal, choosing from their descriptive beer and wine menu.

Lastly, if you fancy a nice cigar after dinner the humidor room offers a modest selection, though, not as big as places such as Sam Hill’s Cigars up the street. 

Overall, the Park Plaza Liquor and Deli is a great stop for some great food and drinks in an open and lively atmosphere.

The selection of alcohol takes up a fairly large portion of the main area and the cigars offered will suffice if you are not picky.

However, even if you are of legal age to smoke or drink, you will most likely come back for the amazing American-style food.


Book Review: On Basilisk Station

By John Mills
Diversions Editor

“On Basilisk Station” by David Weber is the first book in a series that grew far beyond any expectations.

The first book in the Honor Harrington series, it would be followed by thirteen direct sequels, and twenty other books set in the same universe.

All this started in 1993 with the publication of “On Basilisk Station” by Baen Books, and continues today, with the fourteenth book in the series releasing in early October of this year.

I will try to avoid spoilers, but the book is twenty five years old this year, so spoilers may be present.

There is a lot to say about the Honor Harrington books, largely because of how massive and popular the series has become.

The characters in the series are those one would expect to find in a novel about Napoleonic-era tall ships transported over two thousand years into the future.

Where it starts, however, is with the titular character taking command of her second major military starship.

Harrington takes command of the HMS Fearless while it is in the shipyards undergoing a major retrofit to mount an experimental new weapon, a Gravity Lance.

It is necessary at this juncture to talk briefly about the physics of the “Honorverse.”

David Weber has said that prior to writing “On Basilisk Station,” he wrote an eighty thousand word technical “bible” reference document for how the science works in the universe of his creation.

This helped to ensure that the science, far-fetched and fictional though it may be, is at the very least, entirely consistent.

The primary technology that enables the entire setting is gravity creation and manipulation.

Folded and warped gravity bands are used for both propulsion and armor for starships, meaning that weapons have to be extraordinarily powerful to get through the bands created.

The gravity lance is designed to do exactly that, but comes at the cost of suicidally short range for use.

After a disastrous showing during a series of exercises due to the limitations of the experimental new weapon, Harrington and her ship are posted on patrol duty at the farthest backwater the Star Empire of Manticore has.

The position, while remote, is nonetheless important and should be crewed by several ships.

After the only other ship on station heads back home, Harrington is left with an impossible challenge, and the cost of failure is absolute.

To add to her troubles, there are opponents gathering in the background, intent on making a move while the system is almost entirely undefended.

The rest of the novel deals with how Harrington executes her mission in the face of ultimate adversity, culminating in one of the tensest climaxes I have ever had the privilege of reading.

“On Basilisk Station” serves both as a wonderful standalone novel, and as good a first entry into a series as one could ask for.

Both it and its sequel, “The Honor of the Queen” are available for free in digital from from Baen Books’ webpage.

I read through both, a combined 650 pages, in just three days. Anyone interested should grab a copy and give it a read.

Maybe you won’t be able to put it down either.


Insurgency:Sandstorm Video Game Review 

By John Mills
Diversions Editor 

I initially wrote a review of the original “Insurgency” game back in Spring of 2017, but that review never went to print.

Nevertheless, “Insurgency”’s sequel is now close to release, and it’s a good time to see what’s new.

“Insurgency: Sandstorm” is available on PC in September of this year, and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2019, for $30.

It is also available for preorder for $23.99 on Steam right now. 

While “Insurgency: Sandstorm” is not yet out, I have played both the closed technical alpha, and first beta at the time of writing.

With about ten hours logged between these two testing periods, several things became apparent that distinguish “Sandstorm” from its predecessor.

The first and most apparent change is a move from the antiquated Source Engine, first used for Counter Strike-Source in 2004, to the Unreal 4.

This move allows for much more impressive lighting and graphics all around, though is naturally more taxing in terms of required computer power.

Optimization is ongoing, but “Sandstorm” will require a capable machine, where just about any computer built in the last three years can run the first “Insurgency” without difficulty.  

So what is “Insurgency: Sandstorm”? It is a modern military shooter that bridges the difficulty gap between triple A shooters like “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield” and simulator programs like Bohemia Interactive’s ARMA series.

“Sandstorm” lacks the death by menu approach that makes ARMA difficult to get into, but keeps the lack of regenerating health.

This means that equipping your character with body armor is key to surviving even one hit, and learning how to put bulletproof things between you and the guys shooting at you is an equally important skill.  

When you get into a round, players of the first game in the series will feel right at home, and any existing experience will carry over comfortably.

Gameplay remains the high-tension, deliberate, methodical experience that was so characteristic of the 2014 incarnation of the game.

Running carelessly into the enemy will result in you sitting in the respawn queue for several minutes while you either wait for the round to end, or for your less hasty teammates to capture the next objective.  

The second biggest change with “Sandstorm” is a refinement of setting. Whereas the original “Insurgency” was generally set in Iraq during the occupation, “Sandstorm” is noticeably set in Northern Iraq during the fight against the Islamic State.

This is demonstrated several ways, notably in character design. Instead of the Security side being entirely composed of Americans (most obvious in voice lines if not in character models), Sandstorm has a wider variety of voices.

Options now include both local accents and female voices, indicating that at least some of the Security team is supposed to be part of the Kurdish militias that gained so much fame and renown in the fight against the Islamic State.  

“Insurgency: Sandstorm” is, in many ways, simply “Insurgency” ported to a new engine with a few tweaks. For fans of “Insurgency,” this means that “Sandstorm” will be both very familiar and a welcome breath of fresh air.

“Insurgency: Sandstorm” releases September 18, and I look forward to sinking as many hours as I can spare into it.  


Get Your Kicks on Route 66 

By Sean Hernandez

While taking a day trip to a Route 66 Museum in Ash Fork, Arizona I saw that tourism centered around Route 66 is well-established across the entire state.

I was given an Arizona Route 66 Passport which shows the location of towns across the state which the old highway ran through.

The Passport is a project created by the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona to increase tourism in the highlighted towns.

With a map and list of locations to visit, my road trip planning began. I decided to start on a journey across the longest stretch of the ‘Mother Road’ that remains in use. 

West of Ash Fork lies the town of Seligman: the birthplace of Historic Route 66.

The old highway runs through the town’s main street and is lined with businesses that have stood the test of time despite now being bypassed by the interstate.

Vintage cars lie scattered and dilapidated outside most of the shops and restaurants.

This town is a true step back in time filled with numerous restaurants, gift shops, and hotels. Each building serves as a nostalgic photo opportunity.  

West of Seligman you have the choice of taking the I-40 direct to Kingman or continuing down the original Route 66 highway through the towns of Peach Springs, Truxton, Valentine, Hackberry, Valle Vista and finally ending up in Kingman.

Attractions sitting along the road include Grand Canyon Caverns, Hualapai River Runners, White Water Rafting, Keepers of the Wild Animal Sanctuary, and Hackberry General Store. There is, of course, no shortage of vintage cars and buildings along the drive.  

By itself, Kingman is filled with enough attractions to last an entire day.

Now called Andy Devine Avenue, the portion of Route 66 that runs through Kingman is lined with museums, old-fashioned diners, and shops.

Its Museums show the history of the city, Route 66, and Mohave County. 

West of Kingman lies Cool Springs where a restored 1926 gas station sits at the beginning of what is known as Sitgreaves Pass.

Only nine miles long, this narrow and winding road provides an extraordinary scenic drive through the Black Mountains and into the ghost town of Oatman.

Don’t be fooled by its label, the gold mining town of Oatman is a wonderful daytime excursion filled with staged gunfights, small shops and restaurants, and wild burros that roam the streets. 

Finally, the journey ends at the border town of Topock on the Colorado River complete with the Route 66 Resort.

It’s home to the Old Trails Arch Bridge which travelers originally used to cross over the California Border, however, the bridge today only serves as a gas pipeline but still makes for a good photo opportunity. 

While my travels haven’t finished yet, I’ve managed to make stops in every Route 66 town between the California-Arizona border town of Topock and Ash Fork.

When traveling along Route 66 it’s not just about the destination, it’s the journey getting to that destination that makes it a wonderful experience.

For anyone considering a weekend road trip I highly recommend a drive down what remains of ‘The Main Street of America’ and any of the towns that it runs through. 


Food Review: Zucchini Three Ways 

By Reece Cabanas
Chief Distribution Officer 

Zucchini is one of those vegetables you can use alongside many dishes, either with a combination of other vegetables or on its own.

The nutritional value is also great if you are dieting and looking for something low-calorie and low-carb.

Below, I will discuss three dishes where this summer squash takes center stage. 

Dish one: simple zucchini parmesan chips that only require three ingredients! Zucchini, grated parmesan cheese, and oil (olive oil works best).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a lined baking sheet with oil.

Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch slices and lay them on your greased baking sheet.

Grate parmesan cheese over the cut zucchini, then add salt and pepper to taste. Bake until cheese starts to brown and enjoy! 

Dish two: a zucchini pizza that will leave you feeling satisfied with less calories. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into three long segments.

Grease a baking sheet with oil and lay the segments flat.

Take some mozzarella slices and lay on the segments as much as you want. Add some pepperoni slices on top and finish with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until brown or until the mozzarella is melted.

Additionally, you can add other toppings, but make sure you don’t go overboard as the zucchini segments may not support all that weight. 

Dish three is more of a substitute than actual dish. Have you ever thought of making spaghetti that wasn’t high in carbs or gluten? My tip is to use zucchini noodles instead!

The only caveat is you need to invest in a food spiralizer of some kind.

You can find them at most grocery stores and they are well worth the investment if you plan to frequently substitute traditional spaghetti noodles with squash.

Use this zucchini in any pasta dish and enjoy! 

Overall, this summer squash is a great addition to your diet as it can be mixed into medleys or other sides to accompany any meal of your choosing. Happy cooking! 



Spring Music Concert Brings Spring Cheer 

By: Madison Padilla
Chief Copy Editor 

On the calm breezy night of Apr. 15, students, faculty and friends arrived at the Davis Learning Center (DLC) for the annual Spring Concert hosted by the Eagle Music Club.

The concert featured nearly all of the groups that are a part of Eagle Music Club, including Wind Ensemble, String Quartet, Women’s Chorale, and A Capella Choir.

The only group not included, the Swingin’ Eagles Jazz Band, had their own concert on Apr. 21.  

The night started off with the Wind Ensemble, who played songs that originated from the British Isles.

The group started off strong with a sky-high piece reminiscent of a plane in flight.

To accompany their tunes, the band had a projector behind them with images that highlighted the songs they were playing.

Once the ensemble had performed their three songs, the String Quartet followed.

A benefit of the Eagle Music Club is that it allows all students of different backgrounds and experience levels to play the instrument of their choosing, and all members played their best and enjoyed the experience on stage.  

Following the quartet was the Women’s Chorale. Since the Women’s Chorale performed at the International Festival back in March, they brought back one of their songs from that performance.

The four women sang a total of two songs and joined the A Capella Choir to finish out the night.

The vocals-only choir sang more songs inspired by the British Isles, then invited drummer Alex Lubiarz and bass player Calvin Shum for their final song.  

In the end, coordinators of the event were proud of its success. Eagle Music Club Vice President Jacob Keeley commented that “The Spring Concert was fantastic. You can really tell just how passionate our musicians are, and how hard they work to make a lasting impression on everyone who attends.”  


Taking Chances Among the Stars 

By: Russ Chapman

The Board of Campus Activities’ (BCA) annual casino night was a success once again! Many students were drawn to the activity center the evening of Friday, April 6, to participate in the fun.

The room was decked out with outer-space-themed decorations and costumes, filled with gaming tables and excited students.  

Tables and dealers were set up for a variety of casino games, primarily poker, blackjack, and craps. Each student upon arriving at the event was given “money” to trade in for chips to be used in the games.

One student, Alan Davis, commented on this system saying, “It’s great fun! They take my money like a real casino, but I don’t have to leave broke!”  

The tables were full from the time the doors opened to the closing of the banks at the end of the night as the students enjoyed themselves.

The tables were manned by a mix of professional dealers as well as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) staff volunteers.  

One of these volunteers, who has participated every year in this event, is Dean of Students Dr. Larry Stephen.

Dr. Stephen had this to say after an evening of blackjack dealing, “It’s great fun to be out with students. I enjoy interacting with the students I see around campus all the time and spending a few hours getting to know them. Smiling faces all around and a great turnout!” 

At the end of the evening students were able to trade in their chip winnings from the tables for tickets for prizes.

Dozens of students patiently awaited the calling of the ticket numbers after the event in the hopes of receiving one of the many wonderful prizes offered by BCA.  

Many students left with smiling faces at the end of the night, even those who left empty handed in terms of prizes were able to enjoy the fun of the evening.

Thus, ended the yearly tradition for Prescott campus that many look forward to attending again next spring.  


Movie Review: “Ready Player One” 

By: John Mills
Diversions Editor 

I usually hold the stance that movie adaptations should be as close to the book as is possible. I’m the kind of person who notices and is peeved by the cuts Peter Jackson made to the “Lord of the Rings” books.

Therefore, it may come as a surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed, and would recommend, the “Ready Player One” movie being that it is far removed from the book.  

What makes”Ready Player One” so fun to watch? For me, it was a few things.

First of all, the Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is gorgeous and works extremely well within the setting.

Most of the movie takes place within a virtual reality environment known as the Oasis. The Oasis is given life in movie form that the book could barely hope to match.

Everything in the Oasis is clearly artificial, but is given a sense of realism despite that that is highly familiar to anyone who’s used a VR headset at any point.  

The plot stays true to the spirit of the novel without having to use any of the unfilmable sections. To point out even the biggest differences would take too long and be too spoiler-y, so I’ll highlight two instead.

The entire way to acquire the first key is entirely different from the book, in a good way. I don’t want to watch someone play an arcade game for half an hour after navigating a notoriously difficult D&D module, all the while being narrated at about how tough the whole thing is.

That just wouldn’t make for a good movie, so Spielberg changed it, and for the better.

The other biggest change I’d like to touch on for example is that the movie cuts out half the challenges, which also would have been difficult to properly film and boring to watch, not to mention long-winded.  

The two leads, played by Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke, work incredibly well together, whether acting in the flesh or as their virtual avatars. There’s a natural chemistry between the two that’s obvious on screen and a joy to watch.

The supporting cast includes the wonderful Ben Mendelsohn and Simon Pegg, and the hilarious T.J. Miller. All of the supporting cast do their job well and fit into the world in a way that makes sense.

Ben Mendelsohn perhaps unsurprisingly plays the primary antagonist, and it feels like there’s a touch of Orson Krennic from “Rogue One” in his performance, in a good way. 

“Ready Player One” was a book that shouldn’t have been filmable. It was a convoluted, fun, mess of self-indulgent nerdism with little true character development and worse interpersonal abilities.

The movie does away with the worst of these flaws by actually making the main character likeable, sociable, and capable without coming off as a pretentious know-it-all who is only out for himself.

That is where”Ready Player One” shines best as a movie. It’s a fun ride from start to finish with satisfying arcs and development, without the deluge of ‘80s pop culture most people won’t get. 

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