Editorial: Embry Riddle Flight Line Culture

A look at what makes Prescott Flight Line Unique 

By Ethan Griner, Correspondent

Over 55 percent of students at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University spend quite a bit of their time roughly four miles away from campus. There, the students spend countless hours and dollars in their bastion of financial insecurity and stress, trying to obtain a communal dream. 

For this pilot, the cultures at both ERAU flight lines are no stranger. As a former Daytona Beach campus resident and current Prescott student, one can only be forced to see not just the duality of the campuses but also their unique differences and subtle changes. 

Sparing the reader details of the Daytona Campus, compared to the Prescott campus it was Wall Street. Students holding their breath, bidding for a plane in a mad rush between block times, to then be let down by the crash of the weather or late arriving aircraft. As the cherry on top, you’d then only be called to a manager’s office and scolded for lack of progress. 

The Prescott campus obviously lacks the feeling of rush or madness when it comes to the flight line, but that’s not the part I feel is important. Wall Street could easily come to Prescott. Let’s speak to the part that is uniquely us: the culture difference. In this writer’s opinion, that’s the part that matters, the part that not only drew me, but what I think is driving others here. 

Prescott Flight Line seems to be a hard place to integrate into. According to ERAU Junior Jessica Shapiro, the flight line initially bore a “cold-lack of inclusiveness to non [aviation]-geeks.” Shapiro expressed that the culture “was more like a work environment… not too friendly when you initially start.” 

This feeling is echoed by a variety of flight students I know. The flight line was a hard place to get started, to feel at home. Many students tend to show up and leave, unlike in the GSIS program or the COE. One could attribute that to the lack of communal areas in the facilities or the nature of the work being done out at the Flight Line. 

The flight line can also seem slightly intimidating because of this. Throughout all 5 individuals I spoke with on this topic, when asked to describe how they specifically felt, most used the word “intimidating.” This is not to say people were scaring them or were rude, but that the environment itself was not conducive to making friends as a freshman.

Drawing from personal experience as well as my continuing interviews, the Flight Line was found to have numerous saving graces to this rather grim initial outlook. Sophomore Michelle Thibault emphasized the importance of the Flight Line leadership’s continual “increase in effort” to make the student experience better for everyone. I could definitely note the ever-apparent open-door policy (despite COVID) maintained by faculty like Chairman Parker Northrup and Dean Tim Holt. 

Let it also be noted, the individuals interviewed as well as the author can attest to the fact that once you “plug in” or get involved in the Flight Line, it becomes not just a work environment, but a place you look forward to being. It’s just that getting over that hump and connecting to the tight knit community can be a tough ask.

I can maintain an assertion that the ERAU Prescott campus’s Flight Line sets the bar extremely high for professionalism and inclusivity. They accomplish that through the always-professional atmosphere paired with an evidently caring staff. While there definitely are areas that could be improved upon, we are foundationally a strong group and a more supportive atmosphere compared to our Floridian counterparts, and I’m thankful to be a flight student. 

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