Spoiler alert: THEY’RE ALL PLANES.
Embry-Riddle is quite a unique school. Sometimes you’ll be sitting in the student union, hear the roar of a fighter jet’s engine, and two hours later, it’s parked on the Riddle ramp. We are an aeronautical university and do get a lot of surprise airplane visitors, so here have been my favorites over the years.
This might be a personal bias since the 747 is my favorite plane (EVER!!) but it’s not every day that an airline arrives at your university to let students tour their 747. Additionally, not every university will pay for a charter bus to take students to see the plane. It was amazing getting to see the plane up close and very personal with the plane. We could walk right up to it, touch it, explore it, and do anything reasonable that we wanted. I wrote a whole post about this plane because it’s that cool.
Ah, yes, the surprise visitor from last February! In this picture, only the ROTC students were allowed near it, but eventually, the general public was allowed inside. We weren’t allowed to get too close to it or go past the tape, but it was still really cool to walk around a fighter jet. At the time, I’d never seen a fighter jet up close before, so it was cool to have that experience. Watching it leave was also an amazing experience- it hovered over the runway before pulling into a steep climb and then some aerobatic maneuvers before it finally left the area. To this day I’m still not exactly sure what it was doing at ERAU, but I’m glad it showed up.
The C-17 and the Thunderbirds
A C-17 always shows up with the Thunderbirds in February for the Daytona 500, but this photo is from this year. I’ve seen them every year and they always do different things. Every single year, however, the rooftop balconies of the aviation maintenance science building and the parking garage are packed with students trying to get a good view. Last year, I was on the third floor balcony and watched the Thunderbirds fly a mini-airshow above us before coming in to land.
In February 2022, during my sophomore year, GoJet Airlines brought a CRJ 550 to ERAU and let the students tour it. GoJet is a regional airline that operates flights for United Airlines. It was super cool- they brought out small groups and handed out refreshments just like they would inflight. Even though it was a smaller plane, I had a lot of fun getting to see it on a more personal level than just being a passenger in it.
The Daily Flights
Last but not least… I love seeing the daily Delta/American/Avelo flights come in and out of the Daytona airport. One of the reasons I attended ERAU was because it’s so aviation focused, and I enjoyed the idea of seeing planes every day. I’ve gotten to see the planes here from so many different views- from inside a commercial airliner leaving the area, from the third floor balcony, up close and personal with them, and finally, flying in a small Riddle plane right by them. (But that’s a story for another time!) I’m excited to see what sort of airplane visitors will show up this year for my senior year. Hopefully one will come soon so I can see it! Regardless, I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!