Thursday, September 27, 2012



I had the pleasure of being invited to tour the Embry Riddle (ER) Campus in Prescott, AZ. Prescott (PRC) is 90 miles northwest of Scottsdale (SDL) and an easy 25 minute flight. I was asked to call ER operations on their frequency before landing to notify them of my pending arrival. 

Taxiing to the ER ramp there were two attendants that were students to direct me to parking. I checked in with their operations, and a student drove me to the main campus. I had a brief interview with each student to find not only were they from all over the United States but from all over the World. My ramp attendant was from Seattle and my driver from Chicago. I will discuss more about this later in my column.

Upon arrival at the campus I checked in and my tour began. There are 1800 undergraduate and graduate students at ER. The normal class size is 25. All classes are taught by professors and no graduate assistants. When I think of ER I think pilots, but there are several other majors besides leaning to be a pilot. Engineering is a big part of ER’s curriculum. Several students are offered paid internships from companies such as Boeing, and they take a year off from school to do this. They then return to ER to graduate. Many students are then offered full time jobs with the firms they interned with after graduation. Other majors are aerospace engineering, meteorology and aviation accident reconstruction where students apply to the NTSB after graduation.

The costs to attend ER are $40,000 tuition and $15,000 flight training per year. ER will be starting an agreement with American International Graduate School (Thunderbird) in Phoenix. A lot of students are majoring in Business Aviation and this will tie in with Thunderbird by advancing with an International Degree in Aviation Business Management. Thunderbird is rated as one of the top schools in International Management in the world.

On my tour I was taken to several labs that had wind tunnels for design testing and one was supersonic. Walking through the lobbies were a Wright Flyer replica donated by the EAA and a drone made for NASA by McDonnell Douglas. This drone was designed to take off like a helicopter and then fly level. MD could never get this design to work. Another area of interest is robotic engineering. ER students have designed a robot to work on the moon for NASA.

Next on my agenda was lunch in one of the most beautiful settings I have ever been. It’s not the lunch that was important but the students I sat with. Across from me was a student from Lebanon and a young lady from Saudi Arabia. The gentleman next to me was retired Air Force and obtaining his education on the GI Bill. The 2 hours of discussion with these young people was the highlight of my day. 

After lunch I was taken to ER’s accident simulation campus. They have recreations of a wrecked 727 that was donated to ER and many other planes that are laid out in a field as per the original crash sites, and the students had to determine why a plane crashed.

Leaving the campus and returning to PRC ER ramp I was given a tour of their flight operations. ER students train in 172 with Glass cockpits, DA 42 diesel twins along with helicopters.

All things considered this was a wonderful and educational day for me, much more than I expected.