I Asked A Pilot All of ZeeMee’s Flight FAQs

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Thanks, Chris 🙂

Chris (’23) is an aeronautical science major who has recently completed the last rating in his degree, the multi-engine add-on for his Commercial Pilot Certificate. He has over 200 hours of flight time and was accepted to the Delta Propel program in Fall 2022.

Is a private pilot’s certificate required before you attend ERAU, and should I do any other ratings before I come?
A private pilot certificate is not required to attend, but it is highly recommended. Completing your private pilot certificate before attending will reduce the length of training and save you money. If you want to be eligible for the restricted ATP, which you can get at 1000 hours instead of 1500 hours for a regular ATP, you must complete 60 credit hours in aviation courses and complete your instrument rating and commercial certificate at the affiliated part 141 training center, so doing your instrument outside of Riddle would make you ineligible for the restricted ATP. Riddle has a restricted ATP FAQ here.

How does flight training work at ERAU?
Firstly, you will register for the flight block. These are called 95S for private, 95I for instrument, 95C for commercial, and 95M for multi. At Riddle, we have Cessna 172 Skyhawk (single engine) and Diamond DA-42 (multi-engine) aircraft. An instructor will contact you to introduce themselves at the beginning of the term (or whenever one becomes available) to introduce themselves and make sure that you are ready to get scheduled. The instructor will start scheduling you for your flight block or other times that you say you are available and they have availability too. Finally, you show up to the flight operations or sim building and have the activity!

Before flights, you need to do a risk assessment, weight and balance, flight planning, check the notices to air missions (NOTAMs) and the special use airspace, and preflight the aircraft. I usually like showing up an hour before the flight activity’s start time to give me enough time to do everything. Sims and orals do not require you to do anything immediately before them (but study the material for orals and procedures for sims), so you can show up 10 minutes before the start time. After the activity is over, you debrief and add the flight/sim to your logbook.

Diamond DA-42.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

What are the pilot pathway programs (Delta Propel, United Aviate, etc) like?
These pathways try to streamline the process for pilots coming from Riddle to get to the airlines. Many of them require you to instruct at Riddle or one of their partner schools until you reach the applicable minimums for the R-ATP or ATP and then fly for one of their regional partners until you reach a certain number of hours there.

When can students start flying?
This depends on how many students are accepted and how many instructors there are. You could start as soon as the first semester at Riddle or there could be a wait and you start at the beginning of the second semester or somewhere in between. When you have a block and an instructor is available, they will assign you to that instructor and the instructor will begin to schedule you.

What is the coursework like? How much time do you spend doing homework per week?
The coursework is definitely manageable. Depending on the class and assignments, there can be anywhere from 1 hour to 5 hours of homework per week per class.

What things do I need before I begin my flight training at ERAU?
The biggest thing is to get a first or second-class FAA medical. Making sure you can hold a medical will save you a lot of money and you’ll need one before your first flight course begins. You do not want to get to your solo, having spent thousands of dollars, and realize that you are not eligible for a medical. Other things that are needed are a headset (I’d recommend a noise-canceling headset to help preserve your hearing), and an iPad (required for Foreflight, which Riddle has a discount for). Riddle has all these things listed here.

Do you have to stay over the summer or winter break for flight training at ERAU?
No, winter break and Summer A and B terms are optional. However, if you are in the middle of a flight course, staying over breaks will help you retain proficiency and can lower the cost of training by reducing the number of repeat activities you need.

Are flight activities included in tuition? How do I pay for them?
Flight activities are not included in tuition and draw from a separate flight account associated with your Riddle student number. Your instructor should go over how to pay with you after your first activity. After a flight activity is complete, it will show up on the ETA homepage with a button to pay for the activity. To view your flight account’s balance, go to ERNIE and click the “My Accounts” tab. It will show up as a negative number, but that is because it is credited to your account. Flight activities are a pay-as-you-go model instead of a flat fee. Riddle also has a flight FAQ found here.

Flight training at ERAU is unique, but it’s good to have another perspective! I was a flight student very briefly before I switched to aerospace engineering- I found out that flying simply wasn’t what I wanted to do as a career path. I’ve written a few times about flight activities- one about my experience observing a flight, commercial checkride preparations (also with Chris), and one of a random flying trip I went on here. Hopefully, this post answered some of your questions, and I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

My Winter Break

New year, new semester, new post!

Winter break, as per usual, was too short. I went to California, home to see my family (and my cats), and then back to Daytona Beach for New Year’s Eve. I decided to spend the week and a half before school started in Daytona Beach.

Unfortunately, I was supposed to leave California on December 22, but the snowstorm prevented me from getting home. Instead of risking getting stuck in the Dallas airport, I chose to stay an extra two days and leave very early on the morning of Christmas Eve. It turned out to be the right decision- my flight from Santa Barbara made it to Dallas, but the flight from Dallas to my home airport of Lexington, Kentucky, never left the ground.

I ended up gambling with the flights- the best option for me looked like I’d have two connections- Santa Barbara to Dallas, Dallas to Chicago, and then Chicago to Lexington. I decided to go with it, since Dallas and Chicago were both big airports so there would be plenty to do.

Dallas’ D terminal- where all the large aircraft park.

I had a few hours in each city, but I liked the Dallas airport a bit more because of the train. I took the train around the airport and looked at all of the airplanes, especially around the D terminal since that’s where the large aircraft were. I also happened to be going out of there since my second flight was on a Boeing 787, which was super cool. I’d never been on one before.

I eventually ended up back in my hometown, where it was freezing outside. I am not a fan of the cold, but it was nice to be home for a week or so before I headed back. I didn’t do a whole lot over the break- I mainly watched Netflix, played with my cats, and spent time indoors (it was freezing outside).

Chocolate the cat enjoys soft blankets in a warm house.

I left Kentucky for Daytona Beach on December 30 so I could be in Daytona for New Year’s. This time I flew with Delta and took the last flight of the night into Daytona Beach. It was a short flight from Atlanta, and one I’ve flown a lot, but I ended up sleeping through the entire flight.

While in Daytona, there were many Buc-ees runs, trips to Tanger Outlets (which is a nice shopping center), trips to Starbucks, and trips to various restaurants around town. My friend Chris was also in town, and we went flying over the Friday before school started simply because we could.

Flying is always fun. While I don’t regret switching out of aeronautical science, I still love going flying. Before coming to ERAU, I’d only flown in small planes a few times, and I found out that I really liked it. It’s one perk that seems to me like it’s exclusively Riddle. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Flying!

Everything That’s Happened Since Thanksgiving Break

It’s finals season, yay…

After a very restful Thanksgiving break, it was the final countdown before finals began.

Of course, ERAU was full of support. The week before finals is called stress relief week, which has a bunch of giveaways for stress-relieving things like coloring books. I snagged one of those, and it’s actually pretty relaxing.

Stress relief week also had stress-relieving dogs, which was great. There were several dogs for students to pet and love as they walked in between classes, and I definitely took the opportunity. They stayed for a couple of hours during the peak of the day so more students could pet them.

Stress relief puppy!

That week, my classes were wrapping up and preparing for finals. Everything was due on or before the designated Friday called “study day.” At ERAU, we have classes on Monday through Thursday, Friday is a study day, and then finals are on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. This year I had four finals- one on Saturday, two on Tuesday, and one online. I had a fifth class without a final, too.

Although I don’t know my final grades yet, I’m hopeful and think I did well. It wasn’t as exciting as last year’s finals week when I got to go flying, but my finals were earlier in the day than last year. I also spent a lot more studying for finals this year. Classes are getting harder, but they’re still manageable! On Study Day, one organization hosted free tutoring for some engineering courses that a lot of people struggle with. It was definitely helpful.

The Student Government Association also had its semesterly forums around stress relief week. The senators from each college (Arts and Sciences, Aviation, Business, and Engineering) hosted their own separate forum days where students get free food for providing feedback. They usually bring inflatables and free food, and everyone likes free food.

The best free food I’ve ever had was actually during one of the forum days- I forget which, but they brought “tornado potatoes” which were flat ovular potatoes on a stick. They were deep-fried and made fresh, and then you could apply salt if you wanted- kind of like a less-cooked Buc-ee’s beaver chip. Since there was no limit on how many we could have, I had three.

Overall, it’s been a busy time of year, but the semester is almost over and I’m due for another break. I’m excited to see what the spring will bring and what I’ll do. In the meantime, I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Thanksgiving Break 2022

Home is where my cats are.

So, this Thanksgiving I went back to Kentucky for Thanksgiving break! I didn’t end up going back last year but this year provided me with less homework to complete over the break so I could have a few days of vacation. I flew Avelo Airlines, which gave me a direct flight from Orlando (MCO) to my home airport of Lexington, Kentucky (LEX). Since Avelo is an ultra-low cost carrier, I’d stuffed my backpack full of everything I needed for the trip to avoid fees.

Avelo 737-800

The flight leaving Orlando was around 6 AM, so I ended up leaving Daytona at about 3 AM. I was too exhausted to pay attention to the flight since I was running on very little sleep, and I ended up sleeping for a good portion of the flight. After arriving on the ground and making my way out of the airport, I met my parents, who then drove me home.

It felt weird to get in around 8 AM since I still had the entire day ahead of me. When I got home, I had breakfast and then played with my cats for a few hours. It was nice to be able to relax, and I was anticipating lunch. I had already planned to go to my favorite local noodle restaurant. As always, the noodles were delicious, and I can’t wait to go back when I’m home for Christmas break!

Thursday was Thanksgiving, and of course, that was its own entity. I made a delicious chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting as my contribution to the meal, and it was enjoyed by all. It’s my favorite dessert to make, and the cake mix comes straight from the box. I usually use milk instead of water, add an extra egg, and replace the vegetable oil with butter instead. It’s delicious (and if you get the chance, I suggest you try it)!

Friday was pretty chill. Again, I spent the day at my house relaxing and doing nothing productive. It felt good to have a few days to do nothing but exist, play with my cats, and not think about schoolwork. That’s why they call it a break.

On Saturday, I packed up all of my things and prepared to head back to Orlando. I had a 2:45 PM flight this time instead of an early morning flight, which was very nice. It was a smooth ride back to Orlando and I ended up sleeping on the way back, too.

Orlando’s airport is a lot more chaotic than Daytona and it serves a lot more aircraft. There were several aircraft lined up for a runway as we taxied by with three different airlines. I love airplanes (not as much as I love spacecraft, though!) and it was fun taxiing by and watching them all sit there.

Southwest 737 MAX waiting in line.

The other fun thing about the Orlando airport is the terminal shuttle. At the TSA checkpoint, I went through, the airport separates two terminals by a shuttle, so I ended up taking the shuttle to the other terminal so I could look at planes. It was also great that the Starbucks line was considerably shorter at the other terminal.

I went back to the car and had to take a shuttle back to the parking lot the car was in, but it was much cheaper to park over there. By the time we left the airport, it was already dark. That’s one thing I don’t like about daylight savings is the lack of light in the evening.

The Orlando airport has its benefits and drawbacks. The main benefits from Orlando are (usually) cheaper flights and more food options, but it comes with the additional cost of time. The TSA line was very short when I was there at 5 AM, but when I went through at 3-4 PM for a trip, the line took me an hour. The Daytona airport is much closer, and the TSA lines are always short, but the flights are generally more expensive and there isn’t as much to choose from in terms of dining.

The other benefit of the Daytona airport is seeing Embry-Riddle flight students take off and land next to the larger commercial aircraft that come in. When I left from Daytona, I’ve always thought of the students that start at ERAU and then end up at the airlines- including a few of my friends. Maybe that will be you one day, too. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Artemis I Launch & the Road to Thanksgiving

Definitely worth the lack of sleep I got.

A little over a week ago the Artemis I mission launched to the Moon, and it couldn’t have come at a busier time in the semester. Officially lifting off at 01:47:44 AM, I was near the Cape watching it live and in person. The two-hour launch window opened around 1 AM, so we left Daytona at 1:30 to make sure we could get down in time and find a spot- the launch was very popular.

To the launch!

My school schedule is a lot busier than it was last year, so I haven’t been able to go to a lot of launches. I did, however, go to a Falcon Heavy return-to-site launch where I heard two sonic booms. The launch was timed perfectly to go an hour and a half before class, so I was able to get back in time. That launch was in the morning, and this launch was my first night launch of the semester.

Of course, Artemis I was a popular launch so there were five people in the car driving down. Most people had proactively brought bug spray (I, unfortunately, didn’t) since this is Florida and there are mosquitos-a-plenty. The spot we chose was full of people, but we were still able to get a good view.

Most of the time was spent waiting on the rocket. I unfortunately didn’t get any good pictures since we were so far away, but we could see the launchpad. It was exciting since I’d seen the rocket on the pad during a trip to Kennedy Space Center, and when it launched, it lit up the whole sky. It was literally like daylight. I definitely do not regret going- I would’ve stayed up even later for the opportunity to see it.

I was pretty exhausted by the time the rocket was gone from sight, and I ended up promptly falling asleep on the drive home. Thankfully I was not driving, and after I got back to my apartment, I ended up going to bed immediately. When I arrived in class the next morning, I found out that a lot of my classmates were also tired from staying up to watch the launch.

On Wednesday afternoon, the College of Aviation hosted a forum day complete with free caramel apples, a Hungry Hipposthemed inflatable game, and a Wipeout-style red ball obstacle course. I played the Hungry Hippos game and ended up coming in last place, but it was fun nonetheless, and actually made it from one side to the other on the Wipeout game. It was definitely a much-needed break in between my classes.

After that, the week continued on through Friday and I had a weekend full of homework before ending up here- the week of Thanksgiving break. I’m excited for the break. I’m going home to Kentucky to see my family and pets, which will be fun. I’ll only be there for three days, but it’s a quick little vacation from school. Then it’s two or so weeks to finals, finals week, and then winter break- which will definitely be fun. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Hurrication, Round 2: Hurricane Nicole

I think I’m becoming a true Floridian.

Over the past weekend, Hurricane Nicole hit the Daytona Beach area, making a very interesting four-day weekend. We originally had three days off, since Friday was Veteran’s Day, but on Tuesday the university announced that classes would be canceled on Thursday as well. As the storm loomed closer, they also canceled all classes on Wednesday after 12 PM.

I had an exam at 9 AM on Wednesday morning, which we did take, and then headed back to my apartment to participate in Boeing’s EAHI matching discussions. It had already rained in the morning, so we were seeing the outer bands of the storm. A lot of professors chose to teach online or have an online option, which was nice since I have recorded lectures to watch and reference if I need to.

This storm was calmer than the last, but the eye of the storm did not pass over the Daytona area. From what I heard, the winds were not as strong and there was not as much rainfall. I did some homework on Wednesday evening, making sure to keep an eye on the hurricane supplies I had. I had plenty of nonperishables and water when I prepared for Hurricane Ian, so I wasn’t too worried.

I ended up staying over with a friend and we baked a cake on Wednesday night, leaving it to cool before frosting it on Thursday morning. It was not a normal breakfast, but it was a delicious one nonetheless.

One tasty hurricane cake!

After eating cake for breakfast (totally healthy, I know) I ended up doing a little more homework before we drove around Daytona. The winds weren’t as strong and the ground was clearly visible, so I felt safe driving around. From what I saw, the only area that had been severely flooded was by the bridge to Daytona Beach Shores.

This was definitely different than Ian- with Ian, there were plenty of flooded areas since there was more rainfall. During Ian, the ICI parking lot was flooded; during Nicole, the pavement on the parking lot was clearly visible and the fountain had not overflowed.

We did drive by the airport and noted that the visiting Aer Lingus aircraft was still there. It’s an Airbus A330, and it landed on Tuesday night. Originally going from Orlando to Manchester, England, the pilots declared an emergency and diverted to Daytona because of smoke in the cabin. The passengers and crew deplaned and the aircraft was left on the ramp.

Our visitor.

By Thursday night, everything had calmed down. I ended up going to Buc-ees with a friend. After that, we picked up a third friend and walked around Target, which was surprisingly open. After going to Target I ended up going back to my apartment and hanging out.

I took Friday and Saturday off since I felt like I deserved a vacation. The storm had passed and my apartment didn’t have any damage, most of the damage hit the coast and beachfront properties. That’s the one thing that I like about Embry-Riddle; it’s a few miles inland so when weaker hurricanes hit, damage is less likely to happen.

I got to play with my roommate’s kitten this weekend, and she (the kitten) is definitely growing. The apartment complex I’m in allows pets for a fee, and I’m glad I get to live with a cat. Her name is Chandelle and she’s the cutest little thing! I want to get a cat of my own someday, but maybe now isn’t the time. I’m super busy and still a student, so it’d be harder to afford one.

This week is the last full week before Thanksgiving break, and then I’m headed back to Kentucky to see my parents. After that, December will come quickly, and then it’s finals week. There’s a lot to look forward to, and I’m very excited about the holiday season. So I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Chandelle the kitten!

On The Road Again: Regional Admissions Presentations

Texas is bigger than I expected.

Last week was fall break, but on the weekend before fall break, I went to my first RAP- also known as a Regional Admissions Presentation- in Dallas, followed by my second one in Houston. They’re different than the accepted student receptions in the fall (I attended five: three in March and two in April), but they’re still engaging and fun!

To get the weekend started, I headed down to the Orlando airport (MCO) around 1:30 with one of our admissions employees. If I fly out of Daytona, or DAB, I’m usually responsible for getting a ride to and from the airport (it’s literally walking distance from campus) but Orlando is much farther away. I can definitely say that Orlando’s airport is much more chaotic than Daytona’s, considering that it has many more airlines and gates. We flew Southwest Airlines on a direct flight to Dallas Love Field, which is the smaller airport in the area. On the way, we did stop over at the New Orleans airport (MSY), which was my first airline stopover in all my years of travel.

Orlando’s security lines are no joke. I was glad that we got there with plenty of time to spare since the line took me nearly an hour to get through. After that, I took the train to our terminal and arrived at the gate. I was still an hour and a half early, so I mostly watched aircraft taxi around the ramp. We boarded the aircraft and it was a short flight to New Orleans, where most of the passengers got off. Since everyone who was stopping over could stay on the plane, we were also free to switch seats, so I picked a window seat in the exit row for extra legroom.

Sunset in New Orleans.

It was a pretty view. I got to watch the sun set over New Orleans and watch aircraft come and go at the gate next to us. I took the picture of this 737 MAX as we were pushing back from the gate. The flight from New Orleans to Dallas was also pretty short, but I still managed to do some homework. While I get to travel, I don’t get extensions on my homework, so I have to be proactive when I know I have a trip coming up.

We arrived in Dallas at a decent hour, heading from the airport to the rental car place and then to the hotel. Once we dropped our things off at the hotel, we ended up going out to Burger King for dinner, since we hadn’t had anything to eat since leaving Daytona. We took it back to our hotel room, and I finished up some homework before heading to bed.

The next morning I got to sleep in. The presentation was around 1, which meant we left at 11:15 since the guest hotel was right down the street. I also got to meet our Prescott counterparts- there were two Prescott admissions representatives and a student from Prescott. She also happened to be from Kentucky, which was pretty cool!

Since I hadn’t been to a regional presentation before, I looked through the slides and was told where I would be speaking. Since I had internship experience, I could speak to that, and I also talked about my experience on campus. It was definitely a different format since information about both residential campuses as well as the Worldwide campus were presented. The application process was also discussed since it’s still early in application season and people may not have applied yet.

After that, we stuck around to answer questions and I ended up talking to a lot of people. Talking to people is my favorite part. I love meeting new people and sharing my experiences. There were about a hundred or so people in total, and a good handful stuck around to talk to all of us.

Once the reception was over, we packed up our things and it was on to Houston! I honestly didn’t realize how big Texas was. I thought Dallas and Houston were maybe two hours apart, but they were FOUR hours apart. And of course, we stopped at a Buc-ees on the way out.

Buc-ees!!

We actually ended up stopping at a second Buc-ees to get gas, and then we drove the final stretch to Houston. After arriving in Houston, we checked into our hotel and set our stuff down before going to dinner as a group. We picked a place with a lot of options. It had lots of different international food options, and I chose ramen noodles for dinner. They were amazing!

After that, we headed back to the hotel to get another night’s rest, since there was another admissions presentation the next day. I did a little more homework in the evening, got a good night’s rest, and then did more homework in the morning. I had a few assignments due that day and that week since it was right before fall break, so it was a pretty stressful time.

The presentation in Houston was hosted in a larger room, which I thought was a lot fancier. The presentation was the same as the one in Dallas, and I got the same opportunities to speak to the group and then individually to families. Once the Dallas presentation was over and everyone had left, it was time to head back to the airport.

We were flying Southwest back, and flew out of the smaller airport, Houston Hobby. I liked it a lot- it was open, used natural light, and the security lines were quick. There was an abundance of flights going in and out, so I had plenty to look at while I waited. There was also a nice food court, so I grabbed dinner before the two-hour (ish) flight to Orlando. I also spotted the Freedom One aircraft, which is painted like the US flag.

We landed in Orlando around 11 PM, and I had school (and the counselor had work) the next day on Monday so we were in a hurry to leave. After grabbing our luggage, we headed to the car and made the hour-long drive back to Daytona. I was glad to be back home, but traveling is super fun. I don’t have any more regional admissions presentations to attend, but Open House is coming up. Hopefully, I’ll see you there, and if not, in the next post!

Two Engines Are Better Than One: The Multi-Engine Experience

Shine bright like a diamond.

So the last time I was in a small aircraft, I went flying with a few Riddle friends. The time before that, I went along with another friend, who was preparing for his commercial checkride. However, those were both small single-engine aircraft. The Colorado aircraft was a Piper Cherokee, and the other a Cessna 172. This semester, I got to experience the Diamond DA-42, Embry-Riddle’s twin-engine training aircraft for multi-engine students.

Chris has since passed his checkride, so I convinced him to take me along for a ride. All Embry-Riddle students are eligible to ride in the back seat of the aircraft (commonly referred to as “backseating”). The only condition is that the flight instructor and student must agree. The flight I got to backseat was his cross-country, flying from Daytona Beach (KDAB) to St. Simons Island Airport (KSSI). It was pretty cool- the Diamond moves a lot faster than the Cessnas.

To backseat a flight, first you stop at the dispatch desk with the student you’re accompanying. They’ll sometimes send you up to the flight supervisor’s desk, or sometimes they’ll give you the badge at the dispatch desk. Once you have the badge, you fill out some paperwork while the flight student begins their preflight activities inside. When the student is ready to go to the aircraft, someone from the dispatch desk will escort you to the plane (or you can wait for the flight instructor to escort you).

Waiting on the ramp!

While Chris preflighted the aircraft, I mostly stayed out of the way and looked around. I hadn’t been out on the ramp since last year when a GoJet aircraft visited and students were allowed to tour it. It took about half an hour to preflight the plane, and then we waited for the instructor to come. And that’s when the real activity began.

As one would before any sort of flight, you have to get from point A (the ramp) to point B (the runway) on the ground. To do that, pilots need to gain clearance and instructions from air traffic control. After we got to the runway, the run-up checklist was performed to make sure the aircraft was still doing okay. Since it was, we waited for our takeoff clearance, and then we were off!

The flight was pretty cool. Chris had filed an IFR (instrument flight rules) flight plan, which meant he could fly through low visibility and clouds. We ended up flying through several clouds, and I can see why instrument ratings are important. Sometimes it was hard to see the wingtip of the aircraft, which was only several feet away.

It’s just a bit cloudy outside.

The flight was around an hour each way, so within the hour we were coming up on St. Simon’s Island. I noticed that there were some heavy crosswinds on the landing, but Chris did just fine. We didn’t come to a full stop- we ended up doing a touch and go before turning around and heading back to Daytona Beach.

The flight on the way back was the opposite on the way to Daytona. We passed through the clouds again, flying back down the coastline. It was pretty cool to see Riddle from the sky- it’s always an amazing sight to see. When standing next to the buildings, they look huge, but from the sky, they look tiny.

After we landed, we headed back to the Riddle ramp. Since people are constantly walking on the ramp, pilots must taxi slowly and be conscious of their surroundings. Once we parked, Chris filled out some paperwork telling the school how long the flight was and where the aircraft was parked, and we walked back into the building.

I was free to go, but flight students do a debrief after each activity (ground instruction, flight simulator, or flight). It’s a way for flight students to discuss how the activity went- what the student did well and what they can improve on. Flight training at ERAU is rigorous, but I can tell that the university wants its students to succeed.

See you in the next blog post… and hopefully at Riddle!

I Survived Hurricane Ian

I’m lucky to be okay.

Hurricane preparation started on Friday when I first learned of Ian’s existence, then as a tropical storm. I didn’t think too much of it until the storm kept gathering strength and it was clearly going to hit parts of Florida. I started checking the National Hurricane Center’s tracker, which is updated every three hours to keep an eye on the storm (the graphic archive can be found here).

On Monday, the university sent out a few emails stating that there were no hurricane plans in place (such as canceling classes or closing down campus). The latest Monday email did state that the Emergency Operations Team would meet at 10:30 AM on Tuesday to discuss and make decisions. The next email came around noon on Tuesday, stating that classes on Wednesday through Friday would be canceled, and the university itself would close at 5 PM on Wednesday.

I only had one class on Tuesday, which was from 11:15 AM to 12:30 PM. During that class, the hurricane closure notice hit, and I watched the class split between freaking out and being excited that class was canceled. I’m from Kentucky, so I’ve never lived through a hurricane- I’ve only received the ending thunderstorms of hurricanes, and by then, they’re not bad.

Me and my friend David after learning about the hurricane moving towards us…

After class, I started my official hurricane preparations. While the Daytona Beach area remained in the cone of uncertainty, we were usually on the edge of the cone so I didn’t do a lot of preparing beforehand. I first had to figure out if I wanted to evacuate or shelter in place. I talked to a few people- one meteorology major, a pilot with a meteorology minor, and a pilot who interned with the National Weather Service. All three predicted that it wouldn’t hit our area detrimentally and that it would be okay to stay if I prepared.

I didn’t really want to leave since my dorm room is set up nicely and I could easily stay in there. Once I had made the decision to stay, I immediately went to the local Walmart to try and buy hurricane supplies- water, nonperishable food that did not need refrigeration, and anything else I thought I might need. I also tried looking for flashlights, but the store was out of a lot of outdoorsy stuff.

The first rain associated with the very outer bands was only an hour long, and it hit while I was inside Walmart. The eye of the hurricane had just passed over Cuba, but one small detached section of the rain extended to the Daytona area. I ended up running to my car and throwing everything in the back during the rain.

Tuesday night was kind of chaotic. All of my meetings for the week were canceled, and the ERAU shuttle service was stopping at 5 PM instead of 8 PM. By then I was safely back in my dorm, continuing my hurricane preparations. I charged all of my devices and began working on homework that I had due during the week in case the power went out and I couldn’t do it otherwise.

I heard from a few friends that they evacuated the Diamond DA-42s (the multi-engine aircraft) to Dothan, AL while most of the Cessnas (single-engine) were stored in a local hangar. Unfortunately, even with them packed like sardines, there was not enough space to put all of them in the hangar, so a few remained chained down to the ramp.

Riddle Cessnas in the hangar.

I ended up staying up until the 11 PM update from the National Hurricane Center, just to see what was happening with the hurricane. It had not hit the Tampa area yet, but they had already begun seeing rain.

Wednesday came, and when I woke up, there was a strong downpour. I definitely didn’t dare venture outside, but I still had power and running water. My professors with assignments due on weeknights had all moved the due dates to next week when school was back in session, which I was thankful for. Around 11:30 AM, I did get the hurricane warning emergency alert from my phone.

Hurricane warning!

I didn’t do a whole lot on Wednesday and didn’t venture outside. It was a pretty boring day, but I did keep my devices charging in case we lost power. I did keep my phone charging and emergency alerts on- hurricanes can produce tornadoes, and I wanted to make sure I was safe. Obviously, hurricanes can flood the area, but I wasn’t as worried since I live on the third floor of my building.

At around 6 AM on Thursday, my phone awoke me with a flash flood warning alert until 10 AM. I ended up going back to sleep and let the storm rage on outside. The center of the then-tropical storm didn’t pass over Daytona Beach directly, but it went over the Cape Canaveral area around 8 AM on Thursday.

Thursday was… interesting. Ian was still raging, but only at the force of a tropical storm. Volusia County was under a curfew and people weren’t supposed to leave their houses for any reason. Thursday was another slow day- I did end up doing some homework since the power was still on, but that was really it.

Friday was more laid back. I got to see the sun for the first time in a few days, and everything for me was semi-regular. I never lost power or water throughout the storm, but I know several people in the Daytona area did. I checked up on my friends, and then it was kind of back to normal for me- do homework due in the week, study for upcoming quizzes and tests, and wait for Monday.

All of my professors have been very understanding during the hurricane. Some of them lost power themselves, so they understand the struggles that we face (especially off-campus students). The professors with assignments and tests in the week have all been postponed until the second half of the week (Wednesday and on) with room for negotiation if students are severely affected. The university also sent out an email that stated students will not be penalized for traveling due to the hurricane since flights into Daytona are still sparse.

Daytona Beach is still cleaning up the hurricane’s damage, and it probably will be for a few weeks or so. I know people who lost a lot in the hurricane, and ERAU is setting up an emergency fund for those affected. I’m looking towards the future- what’s damaged is damaged, and I plan on helping those affected as much as I can. I hope that the ERAU community will be doing well by the time Open House rolls around, which is in about a month. Maybe I’ll see you there- and if not, I’ll see you in the next post!

Summer @ SNC, Part 3: Concluding Thoughts and Advice

Make the most of your internship.

My internship ended almost a month ago, which means now is the time to look back on it and think about what I’ve learned. Of course, I learned a lot of technical skills and gained industry experience, but non-technical things are also important. Just because a skill isn’t technical doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable- for example, communication is a great “soft” skill that is essential to every workplace. So, here’s a list of some of the major non-technical things I learned from my internship!

1. You are not going to know everything and that’s okay. What you do know will still help!
That was certainly true for me. I had my ERAU education which was a good foundation. However, internships and jobs are not like the world of academia. Problems in academia are designed under certain simplifying assumptions. However, in real life, these assumptions are not always valid. Yes, you’ll likely be using in-class concepts to work on aircraft or rockets instead of, say, a baseball being thrown in a projectile motion problem. However, the aircraft or rocket problem takes more things into account than the baseball problem.

A lot of jobs have specific software that they like to use, and you might not be familiar with it. For example, ERAU uses CATIA for computer modeling, but several companies use different computer modeling software like AutoCAD or Solidworks. That doesn’t make your CATIA skills useless, it just means that you’ll have to adapt to a new software.

2. You might not use everything you’ve learned in class. That’s pretty normal- they’re not useless and unrelated, but your specific job might not use those concepts.
For example, I took statics and solid mechanics at ERAU and never once used them in my internship. To be fair, I was a systems engineer and not a structural/stress engineer. I had no real reason to use those concepts when there were full-time structural and stress engineers whose entire jobs were to analyze the structure of different aircraft. My roommate was a structural engineer, and she ended up using the concepts she learned in solid mechanics and structures classes during her internship. It really depends on what type of internship you have. It’s also good to know what type of internships to look for. If you don’t like your structures classes, then don’t look for structures internships and jobs.

3. Get to know your coworkers, both full-time and your fellow interns. They’ll make a good job even better.
I’m serious! If you’re having a slow day, your coworkers will make it go a lot faster. I also feel more comfortable asking questions of people I know rather than people who feel like strangers. Knowing your coworkers may also help you in your downtime- if you share similar interests, they may be able to provide recommendations. For example, some of my fellow interns were Colorado natives and suggested some hiking trails.

One of the Red Rocks trails, which was suggested by a Colorado native! Yes, we did hike a lot, and I did buy hiking boots.

4. The work week is 40 hours; there are 168 hours in a week. Do fun things when you’re not at work!!
In my time at SNC, on average, I worked 40-hour weeks. Sure, we got holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July off, but on a regular week, I worked 40-hour weeks. This allowed me to do fun things on the weekend and on the weeknights. I went hiking, went to the Denver cat cafe, Colorado Rockies games, Pike’s Peak, Elitch Gardens (an amusement park), the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and over to friends’ apartments. During the course of my internship, I stayed in an Airbnb, and my Airbnb host had a dog. She was more than happy to let me take him for walks, which was a good exercise for both of us!

The Airbnb puppy!

5. If you don’t like your job, that’s okay- but try and find a job you do like!
Not everyone will like their first internship- and that’s okay. I loved mine, but I have a few friends who didn’t like theirs. Instead of choosing to be miserable, I noticed that they would ask other people about their jobs and see what they were like. As I mentioned before, you likely won’t use every single class from your degree in real life. I liked my internship, but I also liked a few of my other classes and never got to see the course content used. So, I ended up asking around to see what other jobs did, and I found interest in a few other jobs. I want to keep exploring my options, so I’ll probably apply for internships like the other jobs to see if I like those, too!

That’s the last tip I have! Hopefully, you enjoyed my three-part series about obtaining an internship, what to do when you’re not working, and my concluding thoughts. I enjoyed writing the posts and definitely enjoyed the internship! I currently don’t have an internship for next summer, but the cycle is just starting and I’m excited to see what I do next. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!