About Zachary


Aeronautical Science

**Major:** Aeronautical Science
**Hometown:** Bradenton, Florida
**Activities:** FLAP Mentor, College of Aviation student representative, President of Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Sport Aviation Club

A Midsummer Morning Update

Sunset at the Spruce Creek Fly-In

Sunset at the Spruce Creek Fly-In

Hello there readers, so nice of you to wander over here.

Summer A classes have ended, and I got two A’s! Isn’t that sort of cool?

I really enjoyed the two classes I took, and I’ve decided not to take classes summer B in order to give myself some more time to devote to finishing my CFI rating, working as the Editor-In-Chief of The Avion Newspaper, Serving as the Director of External Affairs for the Student Government Association, and…


I’m working as a ground lab instructor, so I get to introduce kids to the fundamentals of aviation! It was really neat how I got his opportunity. One of my training managers in the Flight Department, Dan Thompson, gave me a call and personally asked if I could help out. Naturally, I said yeah! who wouldn’t like to spend time with kids talking about all of the awesome subject areas of Aviation?

So far I’ve taught three ground labs:

1) A Lesson on Fundamentals of flight, how airplanes fly, the four forces, and Airplane flight controls

2) A lesson on weather, weather services, Radar and satellite imagery, and making good Go/No-go decisions

3) A lesson on piloting skills, ground reference maneuvers, and how Wind drift effects an aircraft

Later today I’m teaching Aeromedical factors, IMSAFE procedures, and a little bit about cross-country operations.

I’m very excited about this because I’m getting real teaching experience. In CFI training, we learn about the Fundamentals of Instruction. FOI is based on psychology, and analyzes how people learn best, but also what hinders learning. Flight Instructors and Aviation Instructors use this knowledge of FOI to better teach students lasting concepts.

I’m getting started on my CFI experience now! that’s how I’m treating this summer job


I’ve also been keeping up with photography now and then this summer. Summertime brings lots of storms to Florida, and one of my favorite things to photograph are thunderstorms. But let’s be honest, the best part about living in the creek is the airplanes! here’s a few of my shots, I take hundreds at a time. RVnamed bonanaza C130USCGcrop2 crk2

A 1955 Cessna 180

A 1955 Cessna 180

Embry-Riddle has everything you need to succeed while in college. If you have a passion for aviation or any of the degree programs offered here, come visit campus, or email me ans ask me about the school. I’ve been here for a while now, and I’ve met a lot of people that I could refer you to if I cannot answer your question. Why wait?


Summertime And It’s Business As Usual

cubWell hello fair readers, it’s been a while since I’ve updated you!

My Spring semester was one of the most challenging so far in my time here at Riddle, Primarily because of Physics II, but I passed, and we’re on to better things. I’m staying in Daytona beach this summer to finish CFI and CFII, I’m almost done with CFI and then I can apply to work here at Riddle as a Flight Instructor! that’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I got here in Fall of 2011 as just a student pilot with 17 hours. I’ve learned so much since then, and grown in my knowledge and experience.

I’m also here to start on my SENIOR YEAR. How wild is that? I could have sworn I was moving into Doolittle hall just a few weeks ago as a freshman

I’ll be taking AS408- Aviation Safety, and AS402-Airline Operations. They are both senior level courses teaching the higher level correlation of knowledge. In Safety we report on Aircraft accidents, our presentations analyze the accidents from a Crew-Resource-Management standpoint. It’s a sobering project, as we see the mistakes that led to a breakdown in control and the subsequent crash.

“A Smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others”

In Airline Ops we study the structure of  part 121 air carriers and management techniques. We answer questions like, How does an airline run? How does it make money? what makes an airline successful? why do airlines fail? It’s also a really fun class. I feel like these courses are pulling together all that I’ve learned over the past few years and testing it.


I got the chance to go flying in the Piper J3 Cub again the other day with my friend Michael Breshears. He’s the same guy that took me flying in my last blog post from Early April. We left from Deland Airport (KDED) and flew to our home airport at the Spruce Creek Fly-in (7FL6). I moved into the flyin at the beginning of May, and it’s like a dream come true. The Spruce Creek Fly-In is a community of homes built around a 4,000 x 150 foot runway. There’s also an 18-hole Championship Golf course too! too bad I’m not really a golf fan.

While flying we practiced some fun turns and maneuvers, as someday I’m gonna get my tail wheel endorsement. He let me take the controls and soar around. And boy, It’s a real airplane!  My days of being lazy with the Rudder in a 172 are over. It’s essential in a more basic plane like the Cub. We floated above swamps in the golden sunlight of a passing Florida Summer day. The air was cool, and the wings willing to take us wherever we wanted.  We then flew back to Deland as it was getting dark. The J3 can’t fly at night, as it has no lights and would violate 14 CFR 91.209!


I’ll also be working as the Editor-In-Chief of The Avion Newspaper this summer. I was the only one who was qualified and wanted to stick around for the summer. It allows me to bring a little bit more of my personal creativity (and lots of airplanes) into the Newspaper. I really enjoy writing, and I hope to include it in a career someday. The Avion has been instumental to my growth while here at ERAU, it’s given me real-world experience in dealing with organizations outside of school such as the Kennedy Space Center, United Launch Alliance, and the Daytona Beach Rotary Club. I’ve learned a lot of practical skills too such as professional photography, editing copy, and working with Adobe InDesign. More than that, I just love it! work hard to find multiple passions while here at ERAU, it’s not just about getting a degree, it’s about forming yourself into a well-rounded individual. A professional!

Does anyone know of any jobs from traveling Pilot journalists? ha, I guess I’ll dream on for now.

cub2_50The Flight line is just about to get a replenished fleet, so I’ve spent a lot of time communicating with the head of the Flight Department about the arrival dates and information on the aircraft. I visited the hangar to get some photos of the new Piper Arrows! we’re getting 5 new Piper Arrows with Garmin G500 glass cockpits. We’re also getting 21 new Cessna 172 NavIIs with Garmin G1000’s. After the new planes arrive, the fleet will be all glass for the very first time.

arrowIf you’re coming to Embry-Riddle this fall, or soon, you have an amazing array of great experiences lined up for you. All you have to do is go after them! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu and i’ll help you out. This is truly the best university in the World!





Just Plane Crazy

The Piper Pawnee tows the ASK21 gilder

The Piper Pawnee tows the ASK21 gilder


My spring break started out pretty normal as far as Riddle-kids go. I slept in a little, I read a few hundred pages of Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis”, and I took pictures of airplanes. I was satisfied with my quiet spring break, but it got much better on the Thursday of that week when a few good friends of mine from the Sport Aviation Club (SAC) called me up. ERAU students Matt Colan and Billy Janus invited me to join them and a few others at Pierson Municipal Airport (2J8), a 2,600 foot grass strip located on the OMN VOR 260 radial at 18.4 miles. They needed a cameraman for some aerial shots they were after. Folks in aviation say, “It’s good to know people”, well that came true in a rather modest way that day.  It was a perfect day to play in the sky, one of those days that you live in Florida for. Let me put you there:

The winds are westerly at 5-7 knots; a refreshing breeze is satisfying under the 82 degree sun which warms your skin. Above you, clear blue sky arcs in all directions with some wandering lines of clouds. The smell of freshly cut grass hangs in the air, reminding me of the football field. Oh yes, this was a good day.

From left to right, Matt Colan, Billy janus, and Martin Hollatz.

From left to right, Matt Colan, Billy janus, and Martin Hollatz.


For the flight we would have a Piper J-3 Cub flown in by Mike Breshears, and an ASK-21 glider trailered in by Martin Hollatz. Both of these aircraft are owned by Eagle Sport Aviation (ESA), a flying club based in Deland. A PA-25 Pawnee was also present, the Pawnee is the tow-plane for the gliders based at Pierson. An old cropduster, the Pawnee is basically the equivalent of an airborne tractor. After unpacking the glider, we had a careful discussion of the planned formation, as well as what photographs we’d like. We take safety seriously, even in simple operations.

The Piper J-3 Cub

The Piper J-3 Cub

When everyone was happy with the plans, it was time to go fly! I got to cram myself into a Cub for the first time ever, and it was also the first time I’ve been in a tail-wheel aircraft. Getting in a Cub requires gymnast-like precision when you’re 6’4”. I’ve been pretty fond of the aircraft for some time, so it was a proud moment. Earlier last year I had helped put some of the coating on the fabric of that very aircraft, while SAC and ESA were recovering the wings.  The Piper Cub is a simple aircraft, and one of the things it lacks is a starter for the engine. This means the prop must be pulled through for the engine to start, which is called “hand-propping”. With a yell of “contact!” and a quick pull the 65 horsepower engine churned to life. We lined up on runway 5, and Michael pushed up the throttle. A few hundred short bouncy feet later we we’re aloft. The Cub’s door is located on the right side and is removable, so it was kept off for best photography results. Martin and Matt were in the glider, so we communicated over a transceiver to coordinate our formation as well as a photo pass at high speed. We spent about an hour in the air, and Michael even let me take controls for a bit. The Cub has a stick rather than a yoke, and it felt light in my hands. I thought of Lindbergh, Bleriot, Saint-Exupery, Amelia, and other early aviators who often flew with a stick at aviation’s dawn.  The words of the poem High Flight, by John Gillespie Magee also came to mind as we soared through the morning air. I also relearned the importance of rudder for coordinated flight; we’re pretty spoiled with these Cessna Skyhawks. The flight re-invigorated the part of me that wants to get a tailwheel endorsement; it’s been dormant for quite a while. Does anyone know a good instructor? I’m a firm believer that it would make me a better pilot.

After the Cub flight it was time for the Yellow friend to head back to Eagle-Sport Aviation at Deland Airport (KDED). So I took a few more photos of Mike taking off again to head home, what a great time it was! Matt Colan had brought one of his RC planes, an Extreme flight Edge 540T, so he flew it around a little while and I took some pictures of aerobatic maneuvers.

Matt Colan's ExtremeFlight Edge540T

Matt Colan’s ExtremeFlight Edge540T

Mike and Martin preparing the Glider for a tow

Mike and Martin preparing the Glider for a tow


Billy Janus flying the Piper Pawnee

Billy Janus flying the Piper Pawnee

Then something pretty cool happened, I was offered a ride in the glider as well! I had never been in a glider either, and I proved this fact when I asked Martin if I needed a headset. He looked at me funny, because you see, the thing is, you don’t need one for intercockpit communication in a glider. It’s quiet, there’s no engine, go figure! Billy cranked up the Pawnee again and we hooked up the ASK-21 with the towrope. The jolt of the glider (or Pawnee) starting it’s roll caught me by surprise, the canopy was closed around me, and I felt a bit trapped. But that passed quickly, because once again, I was in the air. It was impossible to feel trapped in the wide blue openness that was aloft that day. We we’re towed to about 2,000 feet before Martin released the towrope. I didn’t even notice, I was too busy looking all around me.

The View of Pierson from the glider at around 2,000 feet

The View of Pierson from the glider at around 2,000 feet


Sailing was another vastly different experience. I felt more ‘In-tune’ with the sky then I ever have. Glider’s depend on thermals to climb. Thermals are like wide pockets of warm rising air. An instrument in the cockpit called a Variometer shows the rate of rise or sink of the glider. It’s similar to a rate-of-climb instrument in powered aircraft. We spent an hour and a half aloft, used no gasoline, and lost no altitude. We sailed up to 4,500 or so on the backs of the thermals, and went North of Pierson past lake George and to the southern shore of Lake Crescent.  I took around 700 pictures that day, and was able to share them with the guys that flew me around. A fair payment I think for services rendered! It’s a delight to see others enjoy your work and a greater delight still to spend a day in the sky.

Matt Colan and Martin Hollatz as we pass by in the Cub

Matt Colan and Martin Hollatz as we pass by in the Cub



Onwards and Upwards!

A full Order of Busyness With a Side of Airplanes

 Hello there everyone, long time no see! I got a haircut while I was away. It’s good to sit down and write a little bit!

On a beach in San Diego, CA.

Me on a beach in San Diego, CA. I was there with the  Avion exec board and our Advisor, Wes, for a Conference.

Let’s catch up! the last time I posted was about 5 weeks ago 🙂 First things first, I got the opportunity to be interviewed by the Daytona Beach News Journal about my place here at ERAU. They sent a photographer and put together a pretty nice story which can be found here. It’s an honor to represent my school, and just plain cool to be on the front page of the local newspaper too! I was referred for this opportunity by Ken Byrnes, the Chair of the Flight Department. I serve on a board of Flight students called the Chairman’s Advisory Council, and we meet with Ken weekly to discuss the Flight Program. Through that position I also was interviewed by Fortune 500 magazine on my view of the Regional Airline career path.  So if those aren’t two  good reasons to get involved on campus then I don’t know what is! I want to encourage you prospective students to set down roots here as quickly as you can. Embry-Riddle has so many staff members and professors who are looking for talented and dedicated students to represent our wonderful University. So, come with the intention to get involved and contribute to a better ERAU!


As you may or may not know, Here in Daytona we host the D  a  y   t   o  n  a  5  0  0          NASCAR race. I’m not a big fan of race cars, but it does bring a few billion dollars worth of amazing jets to DAB airport for the week. I, of course, took a few hundred photos of them and have created a Facebook airplane spotting page for them which you can join here to see the photos!  Most notable among them was the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. who performed the flyover. I’ll throw some of my favorites here in the blog for you to enjoy. I used a Canon 70D with a 100-400mm lens to shoot all of these. As an executive member of The Avion Newspaper, I get to use our camera equipment, that’s a definite plus! if you have an interest in photography or writing, consider joining the Avion once you get here!


An F-16 Falcon, one of the UF Air Force Thunderbirds!

An F-16 Falcon, one of the US Air Force Thunderbirds!

blog3 blog4 blog5


From February 25-28 I went to San Diego, CA with other staff from The Avion Newspaper for the 2014 Associated Collegiate Press Conference. At this conference we get together with staff from other collegiate newspapers from Journalism Schools all around the country.  I got the chance to attend seminars on writing, editing, and photography taught by collegiate professors from some of the most well-known names in journalism. I sharpened my writing skills and realized many things that I’ve been doing wrong. There’s always room to get better, that’s one of my favorite things about a hobby. It was strange being there as a representative from a school as unique as Embry-Riddle, many of the people I talked to weren’t big fans of airplanes at all! They thought we were pretty neat, as most of the other colleges were liberal arts universities. It was a nice change of pace.

This week is Spring Break for ERAU students, so I’ve gotten plenty of time to relax. On this past Monday and Tuesday, I got a really great opportunity. I was hired by the College of Aviation Dean’s Office as a photographer for the 2014 National Training Aircraft Symposium. This landmark symposium was first started by Dr. Tim Brady, Dean of the CoA. It brings together representatives from Aviation Universities, Air Carriers, Aircraft Manufacturers, and the FAA to discuss the Aviation Industry. It was really neat to listen to more than 60 aviation professionals discuss how to make our industry run better in the wake of the ‘1500 hour rule’. I also got a few business cards and talked with some awesome ERAU alumni who are working for major Airlines.

I’m at the point in my college journey where I’m getting pretty busy, but I still find time to answer the occasional Email, I’ll write some blogs more often too, I promise! So if you have any questions about ERAU and how to get involved here, email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

Sitting in a Cirrus SR-20 at this years NTAS Conference

Sitting in a Cirrus SR-20 at this years NTAS Conference

Onwards and Upwards! 

Rockets, Racecars, and other fine things

Hello readers, it’s been a while since I’ve shared some stories with you, but let’s catch up!

It’s been a busy first few weeks this semester, mainly because of my new position at The Avion Newspaper, which I believe I mentioned before. I work as the News editor, and I manage the content which we run each week. It’s an honor to do, and I love all the new things it has been teaching me. You can read all of our issues by clicking here

My classes this semester are:

Physics 2, Turbine engines, Crew Resource Management, FMS Systems, and Aviation Legislation. It’s a pretty good variety of subjects and will keep me busy. I’m starting to get to the point in my degree program where the courses are much more specialized.

On to the cool stuff now!

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

On January 23rd I got the opportunity to drive down to KSC, (or Cape Canaveral, The Kennedy Space center, or whatever you prefer to call it) There, I was covering a rocket launch and had full PRESS accreditation as a reporter from The Avion Newspaper. I went with my managing Editor, Matt Micholowitz. We spent the evening hanging around the press area before we got on the bus to go to NASA static test road to watch the launch. United Launch Alliance was launching their TDRS-L satellite, which is a communications satellite for NASA’s Space Network. The Rocket was a Delta V-401 configuration and launched at 9:33 pm. It was really cold that night, and i was surrounded by a few dozen other anxious photographers waiting to get the perfect shot. My best photo we included in the Avion after I wrote a story on the launch, you can see my photo below. It was so cool to get to attend this launch, and I couldn’t have done it without being involved in The Avion Newspaper.

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

A few days later on the 25th  I got to go to the ROLEX 24, which was a 24 hour Endurance race featuring some of the most powerful supercars in the world. I spent 8 hours at the D  a  y  t  o  n  a    S  p  e  e  d  w  a  y with some other Avion Photographers: Trey Henderson-Editor in Chief, Matt Micholowitz-Managing Editor, Richard Weakly- Advertising Manager, Austin Coffey- Photo Editor, and Lynsay Hurilla-Business Manager.  I held a Canon 60D close and took some great photos!  it was the first time I got to use a professional quality camera and glass. The atmosphere was in an uproar of revving engines and screaming tires. I stayed from early afternoon until late at night, this allowed me to get a great variety of photos at the event.  It was the first time I had been at the track and will not be soon forgotten. I had a blast spending a day there, take a look at my favorite photos below.

A lot of power in this picture!

A lot of power in this picture!

rolex2 rolex3 rolex4

So as you can see, it’s been quite a ride so far this semester, my opportunities have opened up a lot through being at the Avion. These are the lives of students at ERAU, we get to do incredible things. It’s an honor to share them with you on this blog, as always, you are free to contact me with any questions about flying and life. It’s fulfilling to write this page, but the real value in it for me is when someone contacts me and wants to talk.

I get pretty busy here at school, and sometimes it can feel discouraging. It wears me down. Throughout last week I had a song in my head, it was from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. All week long it played over and over:

“If you want to view paradise,

Simply look around and view it,

Anything you want to, do it

Want to change the world?

There’s nothing to it.”

So, you know what I did? I took time in the middle of the day to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. Sure maybe I had other things to do, but the time i spent refreshed me to get through the week. It was much more important that I was focused and relaxed.  Sometimes you just have to escape into paradise for a while, and that’s what I did. Those words have become sort of a motto for me. If you want to make an impact, then just go do it! don’t let anything hold you back. If you look for the good things in life and take joy in them, you’ll be propelled by that Joy to do things you never felt possible. I’ve done things and gone places while at ERAU that I never imagined I would do.


Please email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu if you have any questions or just want to talk to someone about ERAU.


A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime. I couldn't resist snapping a photo.

A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime while at the 24. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.



The best advice you could ever take

Hello Readers!

 I hope the New Year has been a good one for you so far. There are many exciting new things happening on campus to kick off the New Year. Our campus has been graced with a beautiful new building, the College of Arts and Sciences (COAS). I took a walk through it on this past Monday and what a sight it is! Five stories of the most modern classrooms and labs you’ll see, topped with the largest collegiate telescope in Florida. I have a physics class in the building and I’m quite certain it will be my favorite class simply due to its location there.

The New College of Arts and Sciences

If I could provide the best advice for success while at Embry-Riddle it would be summed up in one simple phrase…

Get involved!

Here at ERAU there is a wealth of resources available to students who are willing to go after them. 2013 was a transformative year for me at Embry-Riddle simply because I decided to do more with my time here on campus. It all began with the decision to pick up an election packet for a Student Government Association position. I was unsure of my place within Embry-Riddle and I didn’t know where I really fit in. With the election packet, I was tasked with gathering 50 signatures from the student body and writing a short essay. It was hard to ask students to support me in something I wasn’t totally certain of myself–but I did it anyway, I knew It was the right choice for me to get involved.

After a few weeks and some basic campaigning I was a student elected SGA official, specifically, a Representative for the College of Aviation.

With SGA involvement follows the opportunity to enhance student life at Embry-Riddle through the provision of services, events, and representation while providing a means for students to address issues with the administration. With my position I gained many exciting opportunities to meet staff on campus, interact with students, and do neat things I would have otherwise missed out on.

“Think of Embry-Riddle as being like a large buffet, you should chew and absorb as much as you can in your time here”

By far my favorite (and most tiring) part of 2013 was Fall orientation. From waking up at 6am to help signup new flight students for flight badges, to helping set up a dance party in the student center past midnight—I got to be an essential part of new students first days on campus. And it was a blast! What followed throughout my first semester was an expansion of my experiences and opportunities so fulfilling that I cannot even recount it all.

But that wasn’t all. I also took interest in The Avion Newspaper, which is the campus news outlet and a branch of our Student Government. Again, I was unsure if it was the right place for me to get involved but I attended meetings anyway, just to see what it was like. I wrote my first article in the paper and attended my first production on a Sunday afternoon to layout the paper. I wrote another article, and then another. I couldn’t seem to get enough, I loved what I was doing there, and the other staff members were very welcoming to me. By semester’s end I was among the top contributors to the paper, and I was offered a position as News Editor for Spring 2014. I took it.





My simple decision to get involved on campus with SGA led me down a path to many more neat experiences which have enriched my life here at ERAU. Through my experiences I was even able to acquire this blog writing position. It’s a truly humbling opportunity which I don’t deserve. Through this blog I get to interact with many prospective students like you and tell you about this great University.  Embry-Riddle has so much to offer you even beyond  its incredible degree programs. I encourage you to take a look into what is offered here, then come schedule a visit. Don’t let doubts hold you back, there could be a world of opportunities just beyond the next hill. There was for me.

You are always welcome to contact me with any questions, I am greatly encouraged by email feedback  wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

“You always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” — Wayne Gretsky

A License to Learn


Posing with My check pilot after completion of in-house checkride on Halloween Day. The mask WAS NOT worn in-flight.


Hey there readers, I hope you are doing well:

I write to you as a newly certificated Commercial Pilot! I completed the DE checkride process on the 20th of last month and it was quite an adventure. The Commercial certificate is where you take everything you’ve learned and polish it to a professional shine. The desire is to get paid for flying one day after all!

Next I will be beginning my Flight Instructor Course (CFI). I will be staying some extra time into Christmas break to get a head start on it. The Flightline is open until the 24th. I’m staying until the 20th.

Right now we are entering the final week of regular classes here in Daytona, and everyone’s eyes are glazing over at the amount of work ahead of us. Or is that just me? I currently have two classes with grades right on the B/A margin and it’s the most aggravating feeling. I have to Ace two final tests to make those B’s become A’s. A wise man once said that the private certificate is a license to learn.Therefore, everything that proceeds from that is continual pursuit of aeronautical knowledge. Remember what I spoke of in a previous post about being a Student of the Skies? Learning never stops in an aircraft, no matter the pilot’s level of experience.

Single-Engine Commercial Course at ERAU (FA321 P141)

You will fly two aircraft: CE-172 NAV III    and the    PA-28r-201

  •  Stalls and slowflight are re-visited, with the addition of accelerated stalls and Spin Awareness. Note: Your stalls will be recovered at the onset of a buffet, full stalls are not practiced per the Commercial PTS.
  •  A new ground reference maneuver is introduced: Eight’s on Pylons in the Cessna.
  • Three new Performance maneuvers are done: Chandelles, Steep Spirals, and Lazy-Eight’s to accompany your steep turns.
  • Our old friends,  the short and soft field takeoffs and landings are demonstrated again in the PA-28r. You will have 100 feet to make your point, reduced from 200 feet in the Private PTS.
  • Pilotage and Deduced Reckoning, Use of Navigation systems and Radar Services, Lost Procedures, and a Diversion will be redone,  refined, and re-tested from your Private level of experience.
  • Emergency Operations are practiced: You will demonstrate an Emergency Decent, a Simulated Emergency Approach to landing, and the fabled Power off 180° (short approach) in the Arrow. You will also  brush up on your knowledge of survival gear.
  • New Aeronautical Knowledge of High-Altitude operations, Pressurization, Oxygen systems, Complex gear and prop systems, FAR’s, and Commercial Pilot Privileges will be added to the knowledge from your Instrument and Private course.
  • Yes, you still have to know all the past subjects, and in finer detail!
  • The End of Course process is L  e  n  g  t  h  y  !  After a successful Pre-prog Oral, Cessna flight, and Arrow flight; you will be signed off for Checkride. First  There is an ‘In-house’ checkride process which includes an Oral, a Cessna, and Arrow flight with an ERAU check Airman. After completion of the inhouse, you graduate Embry-Riddle’s Commercial flight course. But you must then pass a Designated Examiner Checkride (DE) In order to get your actual certificate from the FAA. It will cover all of the same material and maneuvers as the Inhouse but with a Certified Examiner outside of the Embry-Riddle culture. If you  passed once with Riddle, you can do it again. The DE’s are really neat guys, I had Ken Luckett. Once you pass the DE, you are a commercial pilot, and will enjoy the satisfaction of being handed your signed certificate then and there.

I started working on my Commercial Rating over the Summer, so it’s been a long process and I’m very satisfied with the result. I can’t wait to see what more lies in  store for me through the Flight Instructor course. Now I’ll get the opportunity to practice teaching something that is close to my heart. It is that shared experience of piloting an aircraft that keeps props turning here at Embry-Riddle. The love of flying and the desire to do it for life is what drives our Eagles to soar.

Are you thinking of looking into ERAU? well I implore you to take your first step right now.  Send me an email with any questions you have and I can point you in the right direction.





Weather… or not?

Hey there readers, stop scrolling and remain here for a spell.

Some of the most difficult choices  I’ve had to make as a flight student here at Riddle are when it comes down to the classic “Go or no-go” decision. Sometimes, it can be a very daunting task. If conditions for safe flight are not prevailing, then  your instructor will cancel the flight for weather. If conditions are fair, but not conducive to a productive flight (Such as scattered clouds at 2,000 when ground ref is to be done, or 20 kt gusting winds when your soft-field landings need work) your instructor will cancel the flight for weather.
Or worse, they will leave the weather decision for you to make.

Of course, I am only kidding. Making decisions for yourself as a pilot is the best way to prepare yourself for being a top quality Aeronautical Decision Maker. It puts a lot more pressure on you as a flight student when you have to make the call. I remember myself thinking of all of the variables in such a decision:

  •  An urge to complete the activity, a desire to progress to an end. —Impatience.
  •  A fear of making the wrong decision and being forced to turn back, the wasted money and time. —A potential for real risk.
  • An uncertainty of my instructors intentions, does he think we can go but just wants to hear me say it? is it a test?  —A pressured decision.

To say the ultimate truth, being a pilot is far more than just flying the plane…

Professional pilots are Decision Makers.

Aeronautical Decision Making is defined as a systematic approach to the mental process used by aircraft pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances.


So, Moving on…

“Yeah, I got weathered today” — ERAU flight students, thousands of times a year.

It happens to the lot of us and It is not uncommon for students to get backed up pretty far in their training due to cancellations for weathered activities. It’s really easy for frustration to set in. As a private student with a mid-morning flight block in the Fall of 2011, I experienced my fair share of cancellations. I believe I stopped counting after 20 or so. The uncontrollable external circumstances led to an internal struggle for me with confidence in the airplane.

At the cost of being very cliché, let me extend a healthy invitation for you  to weather the storms you may encounter in life. Though you may feel blinded by zero visibility with nothing around you but stinging rain and shattering lightning, the storm will always pass. When I look back on the storms in my life I see the growth I have sustained due to those experiences and how I was sharpened and improved by them. Long ago a wise man wrote in a book  that as Gold is refined through fire, a man is refined by his experiences in life. And surely I can attest to this fact.

When storms roll in, I find assurance in taking a long-term perspective

Here at Embry-Riddle you will have the resources to bring you far in life as long as you aspire to work hard each day and weather the storms when they build. Looking back at myself as a freshman student pilot who barely knew what the parts of an airplane were I’m amazed at how far I’ve come in  a short two years. I keep in mind the fact that I will always be a student of the skies and there will be more to learn with each change in the winds. The future is truly bright.

An action Point: Being a weather minor at ERAU and a member of humanity, I must add that we be mindful of the current relief efforts in the Philippines during the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Those people have gotten the brunt of nature’s effects and need help. If you feel compelled, please consider donating to relief efforts. You can find many organizations to donate to with a quick google search

Thank you for reading, I wish you a pleasant day

God’s blessings be with thee.

You may always contact me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu with questions or if you just want to get to know me.

Pipers and Preparations

Hello Reader,

Thanks for stopping by the blog page again, I’m quite certain all of my fellow writers here will agree that we appreciate the opportunity to share our lives with you. I received a few emails from folks who read my first post and it was a blast to respond to their questions and welcome them here.

I should introduce myself more fully.

My full Name is Zachary Benjamin Wilkinson and I was born in Bradenton, Florida on November 4th 1992. (That makes today my 21st birthday) Happy Birthday to me! My Hometown is under the Northern shelf of class C airspace at ‘KSRQ’ for those of you who are aviation-inclined. Follow the link to look it up on skyvector. I did my first flying out of Cirrus Aviation at Dolphin Aviation, the FBO there. The tail number of the first plane i flew was N393SP.

From a young age I grew up amazed at the wonder of transportation and adventure. My bookcase was filled with storybooks about planes, trains, ships, and automobiles.  I built articulated flying creations of Legos and K’nex and i would imagine them cruising across the wide expanse of my living room. It wasn’t long before my eyes picked the sky as my favorite method of getting from point A to point B. My father always encouraged me to take steps  wherever I wanted in life, in this case my steps were towards the local airport for a discovery flight. Not long after that I heard about Embry-Riddle, and the rest is history. Other things that interest me are Model Building, Paintballing, Videogames, Reading, kayaking, fishing, and Hiking.



On October 31st  I passed my In-house Checkride for the Single Commercial course, it was a great start to an exhilarating Halloween Day. I awoke to the sound of my alarm at 0500 to prepare for activity start time of 0630. This portion of my checkride would consist of an Emergency approach to landing, an emergency descent, short field takeoffs and landings, and soft-field takeoffs and landings. All in a PA-28r-201, lovingly known as the Piper ‘Arrow’.  I leave plenty of extra time to prepare for a flight just in case something comes up before start time. A tip for the current flyers or pilots-to-be: always give yourself plenty of time buffer before an activity in case something comes up, because you never know when something will occur that will slow you down and cause you to be late. A realistic example of this is faced by any pilot when it comes to Cross-Country operations.


In-flight fuel use is predicted based on an expected  ‘per-hour’ burn recorded in the POH of any aircraft. Also, the airspeed you travel at aloft is relative to the winds at your cruising altitude. Before a flight we as pilots are trained to research the forecasted winds aloft  and determine an expected groundspeed. This data will allow us to have an idea of how much fuel will be needed to complete the flight. Fuel burn and time aloft is critical. Do you see a theme amongst my italicized words?

The number one cause of Aviation accidents and incidents is Fuel starvation or improper fuel management.

Once  inflight the actual conditions could be much different. Sometimes a headwind will be greater or a tailwind much less than expected. A diversion for weather could be required, lengthening your route. Traffic along your route could restrict you to a different altitude than planned, changing many factors of flight.  If under IFR ATC delays or holding could leave you in the air for much longer than you expected. If not prepared with ample additional fuel a pilot could be quickly thrust into an emergency situation. The least of your worries is being caught with less than your legal fuel reserves as required per 14 CFR §91.151 for VFR flight. A long lesson put short is, expect the unexpected. You may go through 500 hours of flying without a single incident but one day something will go wrong and extra preparation will suddenly be worth it. It could even save your life.

Only a little bit of extra time is required before flight to ensure you are properly prepared. If you are new to aviation or just beginning, then now is the time to make preparation a habit. The sooner you start the better. Expect the unexpected and  you will always be fit with the confidence that you are prepared. All of the factors in red above are just in-flight circumstances. In everything we do we can encounter slowdowns, changes of plans, delays, missed assignments, and hardships. We must be ready for when those times come.

Many joys of flight await you here at ERAU or wherever you reside. If you feel led to the sky, start your journey today. Look up your local airport and schedule a discovery flight much like I did back home in Sarasota. Once you know it’s for you, then please  ask me about flying at Embry-Riddle.

My email is always open: wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will always long to return”

–Leonardo Da Vinci


My favorite Airliner, the Boeing 757-200. You could say I’m a dreamer.




An Aeronautical Science Lifestlye


Morning pre-flight

Hello reader,

My name is Zachary Wilkinson and I am the new guy on this page. I am a Junior living Aeronautical Science here at the DB campus. I said living because ‘studying’ simply doesn’t cover it. For me this degree is indeed a lifestyle, and I work to learn more every day.If you are considering this degree or are currently practicing it, then let me share a little bit about what I feel makes an AS student successful.

Number one You must be willing to go the extra mile to learn

Your activity doesn’t cease once you exit the classroom or leave the Flight operations building. From day one the standard expected of you is that of a professional pilot. So make it an objective to spend some time at the end of the day to think about what you have learned in your classes and how it can be applied, application is a higher level of learning. My favorite way to actively increase my Aeronautical knowledge is to read aviation related books. I believe that the more perspectives I can gain for myself the better prepared I will be for when I encounter something new. If you don’t like reading, then you will have trouble, because the amount of information you must know just for the Private Certificate is very extensive. The FAA and our library has all kinds of great publications.

Furthermore, The Flight program here at Embry-Riddle is more than just about hours and airplanes. You also accept the safety culture of ERAU and the standards of the best Flight University in the world. The reality is that only about  60% of first-year AS students remain in this degree program. Don’t let that statistic scare you, let it prepare you. Many students find out that the degree just doesn’t suit them, they switch degrees, and continue happily with their change. There is nothing shameful in choosing what is better for your future.

Number two: Be humble

The fastest way to end up sidelined is thinking that you are ‘God’s gift’ to the aviation industry. At this university you are blessed to be surrounded by professors and instructors who have decades of experience. Respect them, get to know them,  and learn from them. Also, Think on this quote for a while:

“Every pilot is a student pilot, whether ten hours or ten thousand”

—Robert Parke

The FAA has compiled a list of Hazardous attitudes which can make a pilot dangerous. They are: Resignation, Anti-Authority, Impulsivity, Invulnerability, and Macho. You can tackle Invulnerability, Macho, and Anti-Authority by being a humble learner as long as you operate and aircraft. You will find it interesting to know that the most dangerous pilot is not a young student pilot with less than a hundred hours. That student pilot is most likely a bit nervous still, he or she is cautious, they may be afraid the airplane could rip apart at any moment due to the blistering 100 kt. cruise speeds. Simply put, They are humbled by the aircraft. The most dangerous Pilot  is the one who is comfortable, they likely have over 1,000 hours and operating an aircraft is second nature to them. This is when danger can set in.

Number three: Be of Good character

“Experience is plentiful and easy to buy, but Character is Priceless” —Calvin Coolidge

The leaders of best companies the industry are not just looking for a pilot to fill a seat with minimum qualifications, they are looking for a well rounded individual who can be trusted with $100 million dollars of liability. A pilot with Integrity of character will be highly sought after and your decision making skills will be evaluated. For example, It is very common for Air carriers  to look into you before you even set foot in an interview. Things like Background checks, reference checks, and even credit checks are done. They may even browse your facebook page. When they look into how you manage your life as a whole and it will tell them a lot about how you will perform as an operator of their aircraft. Make yourself employable and as always, be careful with how you portray yourself on Social Media. Nothing is secret.

Number four: Love what you do

“Science, beauty, freedom, adventure; what more could you ask of life?”

—Charles Augustus Lindbergh

I think this would qualify as the most important of the list. The road ahead will not be easy, that is why you must be absolutely certain that this is something you want to do. Flying has to be important enough for you to be willing to retrain an activity 10 times and still put on your ramp badge and walk out onto the flightline and be ready give it another shot. The inner drive that wakes you up at 5 AM for a flight and keeps you awake till 3 AM on weekends making lesson plans is a Love for what you do.

One of my favorite things is morning activities. The air is smooth and brisk.  I get to watch the sun rise as my instructor and I fly out to the practice area. It is during these times that I know I am right where I want to be. The Florida sun is often glowing in long orange rays which peak between slowly lumbering Cumulus clouds off the coast. You haven’t seen a sunrise until you have watched it aloft.


What I am most excited for is when I complete my Flight Instructor certificate and can teach students how to fly. A flight instructor is a teacher,and I cannot wait to teach! But until then, I am satisfied with trying to impart some of the wisdom I have gained through this Blog.  I hope you will take some of these words seriously but more importantly I hope you enjoyed it. Thankyou for reading, you rock!

Feel free to contact me with any questions about pretty much anything: wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

What am I reading right now?        ‘The Proficient Pilot’ by Barry Schiff