Thursday, December 5, 2013

Embry-Riddle Flight Training, Aircraft Fleet, and Observation Flight

As you read in my previous article, College Decisions for a Student Pilot, there are so many ways to the "top of the mountain," in my case, a professional pilot career. One option is not necessarily better than the next. In this, I'm in no way trying to "push you" towards Embry-Riddle, just showing you one path, and some of the things I learned from my visit. 

I took the opportunity this fall to visit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida. My two day visit is broken into three separate articles: Day One (College of Business and Campus Tour), Day Two (College of Aviation), and Observation Flight/Flight Programs. In each article, I will try to summarize the programs and degrees I learned about, in addition to some things I found surprising about the school. 

Embry-Riddle introduction video (*note, this is for the Prescott Campus):

The following video is a summary of my experience at Embry-Riddle, including video clips and photos from around campus, on the flight line, and in the air: 


Embry-Riddle is known for its world class flight degree programs and training. For better or worse, ERAU Daytona is all aviation all the time. Situated directly on the Daytona Beach International Airport, planes are constantly flying over the college campus. To some, that'd be unbearable, but for us pilots, we always end up looking frantically around to see where the overflying jet is. There are many observation decks around campus available to students who want to check out the airport. 

Embry-Riddle's fleet in Daytona is comprised of 88 aircraft. The following aircraft types make up their fleet: 

Cessna 172

American Champion Decathalon

Piper PA28 Arrow

DiamondStar Twin DA42

ERAU Cessna 172 Glass Cockpit

In addition to the aircraft above, the university recently announced a fleet renewal which will take place over the next 2 years. The new Cessna 172s (44 of them) and Piper Arrows will come with a new liveries, wireless data transfer systems, and all glass cockpits. According to the school, all of these new planes will be in the fleet by 2015. The colors will be exactly like the Cessna below: 


One very appealing aspect of ERAU to prospective students is the airline gateway programs the college offers. Here is what is said about the programs on the Embry-Riddle website:

"Over the years, Embry-Riddle has had in place one or more new-hire programs with commercial airlines. The programs were implemented and designed to provide exceptional opportunities for Embry-Riddle graduates with Aeronautical Science degrees to become, upon graduation, new-hire pilots with airlines. These relationships depend on airline pilot hiring opportunities which are currently on hold at most airlines."

A variety of gateway programs are available directly through the school. In many cases, students are interviewed their sophomore year by the airline, and if chosen, follow their requirements from that point to be hired. It was described to me by the College of Aviation leaders that the students "wear the tee-shirt" of their airline from the day that they get the job. These programs normally require the student to be an instructor at the school, something that school offers every flight student (after a rigorous interview process). Each person is still a full-time student at ERAU, but already has something set up for when they graduate. The programs offered are listed below (for more information on these programs, click here): 
  • SkyWest Airlines 
  • ExpressJet / Delta Air Lines
  • American Eagle 
  • Cape Air / JetBlue 
  • Proctor and Gamble (Corporate Aviation) 

Example Gateway Program (Cape Air and JetBlue): 


While I was visiting the campus, I was offered the opportunity to take an observation flight in one of their Cessna 172s. There was an instructor and student up front, with me observing from the second row. The flight time was scheduled from 5:50pm-8pm (takeoff around sunset and some night flying). The student planning to do some holding pattern work around the Daytona/Flagler area. You can see video clips from our flight at the top or bottom of this article.

We took off from Runway 16 at KDAB and had a great view of the ERAU Campus as we turned East and then North towards one of the practice areas. The second you take off and get a view above the trees, the ocean is in sight and only a few seconds away: 

Flying at sunset and into early nighttime was a great experience as well. The bright, orange sunset lit up the entire aircraft, a great chance for some photos!

The flight program at ERAU was very impressive to me, as it is to many pilots around the world. I can't wait for my next visit down to Daytona Beach to be on campus again. And who knows? ... Maybe this will be my home in a few years. 

Thanks for following along with my Embry-Riddle experience. If you missed one of my three articles about my visit, check out the "College for Student Pilots" tab at the top of this site.

Enjoy the fly life everyone!,
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation


  1. These photos are just awesome!! I hope when you go to school there you can give me a ride when I come to Florida. :)

    1. Thanks so much Karlene! Flying over that area of Florida was beautiful... I can't wait to go back!

  2. An excellent post, Swayne!
    I've enjoyed reading all three posts about your visit to Daytona. As we've talked before, I've never stepped foot on campus (with two Riddle degrees .. weird huh?!) so this has been a fun experience for me.
    The fotos, the video and the narrative - all great work!


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Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin