USU alums join team to change aviation safety forever

Bailey Scheel ('14 Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) learned to fly an airplane before driving a car.

LOGAN – Two Utah State University alums who graduated five years apart spent the last two years on a team at tech giant Garmin International that has created a new flight system — Autoland — that controls and lands an aircraft with no pilot interaction.

USU alumni Eric Sargent, left, and Bailey Scheel are part of a team at Garmin International that created the revolutionary Autoland flight control system.

Bailey Scheel is a senior aviation programs engineer at Garmin and Eric Sargent is a flight test pilot.

Scheel was the project engineer for Autoland.

”So I helped make sure that all the people had the things they needed: airplane, hardware, software. Things were tested appropriately. If there was a comment back from Eric and his team, as to what they thought could be improved, I would help get that through the software team and making sure those decisions were made appropriately.”

Before joining Garmin as a test pilot, Eric Sargent (’09 Aviation) was a flight instructor at Utah State University.

Sargent was the flight test pilot on the Autoland project.

”During the landing I was in charge of verifying that the aircraft was in fact performing as we intended, and landed at the nearest suitable airport and landed on the runway and rolled out safely.”

Scheel, who is also a pilot, said working with a USU grad as the test pilot for the Autoland project was a highlight for her.

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