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Sun, Feb 29, 2004

Embry-Riddle Outflies Competition At NIFA Regionals

Students Show Their Flight Proficiency

Do you ever look over your kid's shoulder while she's doing homework and think, "Man, I'm glad I'm not in school anymore"? That's sort of the feeling you get when you read what Embry-Riddle flight students had to do to win the NIFA Region 2 competition earlier this month.

The contestants came from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott, San Jose State, Mt. San Antonio College, Christian Heritage, and Cypress College. The Air Force Academy also competed, though they were from a different region. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott, San Jose State, Mt. San Antonio College, Christian Heritage, and Cypress College. The Air Force Academy also competed, though they were from a different region. And the competition at Prescott Field (AZ) was a tough one.

For instance, students who attended the two day competition, which started February 13th, were rated on their ability to handle a dead-stick landing. On downwind, they had to pull power, complete a standard pattern to landing and oh, by the way, hit the numbers. And you think YOUR flight instructor was tough. These folks were graded on distance from the landing point, quality of traffic pattern, flare, and touchdown. Judges lined the side of runway 21L wearing safety vests to watch the landings from a close distance.

They also had to performed power-on landings. When the airplane was abeam the touchdown point, the pilot was allowed to reduce power but cannot add any afterwards.

The weather was great -- at least, to all appearances. But as contestant Roy Evans found out, calm days don't necessarily make for the best precision landings.

"In a calm day, it is hard to pin-point because [the aircraft] will float.  Cross-wind and tail-wind landings are much more fun," he said.

That wasn't all. Other competitive events included short-field landings, message drops, and pre-flight inspections. Ground exercises included aircraft recognition where teams had to identify an aircraft with only a glimpse of an aircraft part. There were several exercises demonstrating navigation, simulators, and flight computer accuracy.

When the roar of the engines died down, Embry-Riddle won the competition with 375 total points. San Jose came in second with 165, Mt. SAC with 108, Christian Heritage with 53, and Cypress at nine.

If the celebration seemed a little muted, it might be because, for Embry-Riddle, winning this particular competition has become a custom. After all, they've won for the past 17 years in a row. Now, it's on to the national competition later this year.

(ANN extends a special thanks to Charles Miller at ERAU's Horizons online news publication)

FMI: www.embryriddle.edu

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