Long Weekend and the Daytona 500

I was today years old when I learned that airplanes can reverse.

Every February, the Daytona 500 happens and there’s a massive crowd rushing in for race weekend. I’ve never been a fan of the races, but I do like airplanes. And each year when the race crowds come in, so do the Thunderbirds!

It’s President’s Day weekend, which means a long weekend. Friday afternoon got off to a good start- the Thunderbirds were supposed to arrive, but they ran into a few difficulties. However, one C-17 arrived, and the Aviation Maintenance Science balcony was full of students.

It was three hours late (or maybe my friends and I were three hours early!), which meant that I could do a little homework on the tables on the balcony. I ended up working ahead in a nice shady spot, taking a few breaks to watch the daily Delta and American flights take off and land. They come and go every few hours, so I saw a few of them.

The C-17 arrived around sunset, which led to this pretty picture:

The C-17 lands on 25R here at KDAB.

At the time, rumors were circulating on if the Thunderbirds were arriving on Friday or Saturday. Most people decided to stick around for another hour or so, including me. Everyone on the balcony watched the C-17 as it ended up reversing onto a taxiway, which is something that I had never seen before. It was super cool- you could see the waves from the engine as it slowly reversed back onto a taxiway.

Well, on Friday I learned that airplanes could reverse. You learn something new every day, right?

The Thunderbirds ended up showing on Saturday at 2:30. Chris and I went to watch them arrive, and they ended up doing a loop around before actually landing.

Since it was a weekend, the Aviation Maintenance Science building was locked and the balcony was inaccessible. Chris and I had been tracking the Thunderbirds on FlightRadar24 to ensure that they were actually coming to Daytona, and indeed, they were. Luckily, Chris and I both have cars so we found a spot along the runway and ended up parking there. We’d timed it just right so that we didn’t have to wait too long.

Thunderbird flyover!

However, the Daytona 500 (and Thunderbird mini-airshow) didn’t actually start until Sunday at 3. So after we watched them land, Chris and I hung out for a bit before going our separate ways. I ended up working on some of my Solid Mechanics homework, where we’re learning about torsion. I find it interesting since it’s a concept that can also be applied to engineering structures.

Sunday was fun. Chris picked me up and we went Thunderbird-watching at a pretty spot across from campus. Every year, the Thunderbirds fly over the Daytona 500 stadium when the national anthem is sung. After that, they’ll circle around a few times before landing.

The Thunderbirds took off from 7L, which was the opposite end that we were on. It wasn’t instantaneous; we ended up waiting around for almost half of an hour before they came back. I liked our spot- they ended up flying almost directly over us when the race started. After that, we watched them fly off into the distance before they came back several minutes later. That was pretty epic- they were landing on 25R, which was the end of the runway we were on.

The Thunderbirds ended up flying over the runway and then went around and into the traffic pattern one by one. All six of them landed about twenty minutes later right in front of us, which was pretty epic to watch. And boy, were they loud.

Me and Chris! The picture was taken after the Thunderbirds had taken off and we were waiting for them to come back.

Overall, it was definitely a well-deserved and fun long weekend. I did a bunch of homework for the week, did one round of Carpool Karaoke on Saturday night, and went to a birthday party on Sunday night. Monday was super quiet- I didn’t do much besides homework and hang out with my friends.

Classes resume on February 22, 2022- which is a Tuesday (or maybe we should call it a 2s Day!). It’ll be good to get back to my classes on a shorter week. I had two exams last week and have two more this week, so the President’s Day weekend was a good time to study while also taking time to myself. It’s important to have a good school-life balance.

I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

One of the Thunderbirds landing on 25R… right in front of ERAU!

Thunderbirds Are Go!

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Hello, hello! I hope everyone is doing ok. I’ve been severely busy so this whole “4 jobs plus school” thing is really starting to take its toll on me. If anyone has good time-management tips, please send them my way.

Some pretty cool stuff has happened in the past few days since my last update. Most notably the Thunderbirds came to campus a few days ago. They have been here since last Sunday, and it was no secret that they were in the area. The sound of an F-16 taking off is something that you do not forget, and if you somehow did not hear them, then the 3.5 magnitude earthquake that followed would definitely get your attention. I was sitting in physics the other day and the class stopped one we heard the engines spooled up: it’s intense.

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Watching all eight of them landing is also a sight to see. Because the Daytona International Speedway had recent exterior modifications, the Thunderbirds did a few flyovers with smoke for promotional photos. Also, watching he C-17 land, taxi to the left, and back up was also a sight to see.

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Recently, Touch-N-Go had their Casino Night where attendees were given $5,000 worth of casino chips to play for prizes. The prizes ranged from TVs and copies of Battlefront to a Frozen snow-cone maker and a popcorn maker. That was the first time I have ever “gambled,” and while I lost quite a bit of money, I would definitely do it again. Plus TNG had free pizza and drinks.

Aside from that, there isn’t anything else to report. I’ll see you all in another two weeks!

 

October 2012

Good day, all!

As the midterm comes and goes, I’ve realized how quickly time is passing. Although I arrived on campus almost 10 weeks ago, I feel like the semester just started. It seems unreal that in a few days I will be registering for my spring classes.

As you may have heard, Embry-Riddle recently hosted the Wings and Waves airshow on the beach. I’d been to air shows before, but there was something extra special about sitting on the sand and watching the planes skim the water close to shore. As a member of the Avion, I got the privilege of interviewing two very prominent aviators, Maj. J.R. Williams, Thunderbirds pilot #5 and Cheryl Stearns, champion skydiver and parachute, both ERAU graduates. They were both really interesting to talk to, especially Cheryl Stearns, because she has broken records and gender barriers in aviation.

This is me interviewing Major Williams.

Thunderbirds planes up close.

The Snow Birds at Wings and Waves.

In addition to the exciting things I’ve done on campus lately, I also got to take my first trip to Universal Studios with the other ERRSA members for Halloween Horror nights. I am not a fan of scary movies or haunted houses or ANYTHING scary, but I still had a ton of fun. I got to ride all of the themed coasters from movies that I grew up loving like The Mummy and MIB, and it was a neat experience to see it all come to life. I hope to go again sometime so I can visit the other parks!

Now that midterms are over, I got to relax and go home over the weekend for fall break. It was nice to see my family and friends again after two months of school. However, the best part was the food. Now, the food here at ERAU is pretty good, but it is nothing compared to my family’s home cooking. Also, since I love to bake, it’s been hard not having constant access to a stove or oven here at school. I spent a whole day making two types of cupcakes, apple cinnamon and pumpkin, topped with ginger cream cheese frosting and butterscotch caramel. They were delicious!

I hope that you are all enjoying reading about my experiences. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments you have!

February 28, 2011

 Hi everyone. I hope all is well with you. Things are good here in Daytona Beach. The weather has been in the 80’s and the town has been bustling with the race events and seasonal tourism. This is really my favorite time of year. As I have mentioned before, it is a nice change from the usual slow-pace that Daytona Beach is most of the year. If you plan to attend the Accepted Students day or visit the campus this spring, you will be able to see what I am talking about.

Well, there is a lot to talk about, so I will start at the beginning. As I have written in my previous journal entries, I have been involved at Daytona Beach International Airport working in the Operations department as a shadow, basically. However, a few weeks ago, I was offered a part-time position as a “special worker” in the Operations department and, of course, accepted. I was then airport ID-badged and put to work. I started the week of the Daytona 500 race, the busiest time of year at the airport, so it was exciting to say the least.

Because the Speedway is directly adjacent to the airport, the airport plays host to all of the military aircraft plus the 250+ private jets that fly in for the event. The 3 Fixed Based Operators on the airport are full to capacity and every imaginable space—including the secondary runway 16/34—are used to park these airplanes. I got to see and experience some very cool things, and I am going to share those with you.

I do want to say first, though, that I was off from work on Saturday and was able to attend the Nationwide Series NASCAR race with my friend Justin. It was great and we had a lot of fun watching. I remember last year watching the Daytona 500 and being freezing. This year it was the complete opposite—it was about 80 degrees and sunny!

If you watched the race on FOX, you may have noticed that the United States Thunderbirds Demonstration Team performed the pre-race flyby. This is an incredibly exciting experience for the fans, but a great deal of work behind the scenes. To support all of the crew and equipment the Thunderbirds travel with, two Boeing C-17 Globemaster cargo planes had to fly in.  These airplanes are absolutely huge and, because only some taxiways at the airport can handle the immense weight of the aircraft, it actually had to use its reverse thrusters to back itself up off the runway and onto the taxiway it parked on. What an incredible sight.Once it landed, it was a huge process to unload all of the suitcases, trucks, and carts. Then, it took about 4 hours to pump in the almost 100,000 gallons worth of fuel that the aircraft needed, actually depleting the stock of jet fuel the FBO had in their fuel farm. Unbelievable. The same process occurred when the aircraft came back after the race to load back up, plus an additional Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft that the Air Force flew in for the team.

 The Thunderbirds are neat not only to watch in the sky but also on the ground because of the elegance of everything they do. Everything must be perfect and smooth, so even tasks like removing the chocks from the gear or lowering the canopy are done in sync and at a running-type pace.

In addition to the Thunderbirds, several other military aircraft flew in for the other races’ flyovers. Five F/A-18 Hornets flew in as well as some T-38’s. The F/A-18’s notoriously drip a lot of their jet fuel when they are parked, so this made for quite a clean-up effort after they departed. The pilots were very friendly and allowed me to sit up in the jet and take pictures. It was a great time.

The two air carriers here, Delta and US Airways, both increased their aircraft capacity for the race week, meaning Boeing 757-200’s flying in for Delta and a mix of Airbus A319, A320 and Boeing 737-400 aircraft for US Airways. One night, the terminal saw 3 757’s and 2 737’s parked there overnight, a rarity here.

As I mentioned previously, over 250+ aircraft fly in for the race, usually race fans, drivers, and race teams. The pictures show just how full the airport is. One thing that is really neat is how after the race ends, the airport is completely clear of jets within 1-2 hours. They race out of here. Some celebrities fly in as well, such as Fergie, Josh Duhamel, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, which was pretty neat to see. It really is great experience to see the way that the airport stays operational during the race, and I think we did a great job handling so many aircraft.

This time of year at school is also the time of year that housing decisions must be made for the following academic year. Freshman, as you likely know, are required to live on campus. For upper classmen though, the decision must be made as to whether you will live on campus or off campus, and it really is a tough decision. I decided last year that I would live on campus for two of the four years, simply because I think that when you are new to the college thing it is better to be more directly involved on campus. Next year, however, my roommate and I were lucky to find a really nice, new apartment in a town just south of Daytona called Port Orange. While I do not love the fact that I will have to drive to campus for classes every day, it is a great apartment and I think we will enjoy it a lot.

I may also have mentioned before that my parents recently purchased a house down in Southern Florida. This is great for them and something they have wanted to do for a long time, and I will be able to see them a little more often now. This past weekend, I went down there as they were beginning to purchase furniture, etc. We had a great weekend and it was the first time my whole family had been together since I came back to school in January. My uncle also came down so we really had a good time. The weather was perfect, mid 80’s and sunny the whole time. I am looking forward to going down there again in a few weeks.Classes and everything are going well. This semester’s workload hasn’t picked up to the intensity of last semester yet, but I continue to work at managing my work so that I don’t get slammed with a huge amount all at once.

I know that this time of year is difficult if you are considering different schools and trying to weigh your options. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions you might have at all in making these decisions. I am here to help and enjoy hearing from my readers. My e-mail address again is grecoj1@my.erau.edu.

Until next time, take care and talk to you soon!
Pete