|UND Flying Team bags 15th national championship|
The UND Flying Team captured its 15th national championship with a total of 469 points—an all-time National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) record and 71 points ahead of the runner up—at the NIFA SAFECON competition in St. Louis last week. The team picked up its trophy at the NIFA awards banquet last Saturday.
“The NIFA National Championship is equivalent to the NCAA Championships for athletics,” said Bruce Smith, dean of UND Aerospace. “It is a benchmark for measuring the overall excellence of our college's academic and flight operations activities, said Bruce Smith, dean of the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.
This year’s win was the UND Flying Team’s 15th in 25 SAFECON competitions. UND Flying Team co-captain Ryan Guthridge also nailed down SAFECON’s National Top Pilot Award, earning 107 points, including first place in the short-field landing accuracy event. The 2009 SAFECON competition was hosted by Parks College, a division of St. Louis University.
“This was one of those magical teams that seldom comes along,” said Jim Higgins, UND Aerospace associate professor and the team’s lead coach. “The team had extraordinary senior leadership, an abundance of natural talent, and a work-ethic not often seen. I am very proud of our complete team effort.”
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach placed second with a score of 398 points and Western Michigan University was third with 291 points. The previous scoring record was 466 points, set by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott in 2005.
NIFA was formed before World War I to develop and advance aviation education; to promote, encourage and foster safety in aviation; to promote and foster communications and cooperation between aviation students, educators, educational institutions, and the aviation industry; and to provide an arena for collegiate aviation competition.
The competition gives student pilots a chance to meet and practice their skills academically and in flight events; it’s where the class learning rubber meets the tarmac.
In addition to winning the National Championship and the co-captain’s top pilot award, the team also received several individual honors: William Gardner (Seattle, Washington) captured first place in the simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation event. Ryan Perrin (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota), also one of the Co-Captains, was second in overall team scoring with 69 points.
Competing members of the 2009 National Championship UND Flying Team were: Brandon Anderson (Savage, Minn.); David Edmonds (Hollis, N.H.); Adam Fisel (Waconia, Minn.); William Gardner (Seattle, Wash.); Aaron Guffey (New Columbia, Pa.); Ryan Guthridge, Co-Captain, (Aurelia, Iowa); Erik Johnson (Rosemount, Minn.); Jamie Marshall (Huron, S.D.); Louisa Millar (Wenatchee, Wash.); Andy Paluch (Elma, N.Y.); Ryan Perrin, Co-Captain, (Brooklyn Park, Minn.); Cindy Pro (Prior Lake, Minn.); Kyle Schurb (Rosemount, Minn.); Joel Thomas (Joshua Tree, Calif.); and Greg Weseman (Idaho Falls, Idaho). Flying Team coaches are Jim Higgins, Lewis Liang, Jered Lease, Mark Johnson, and Gary Ebel.
-- Juan Pedraza, Writer, University Relations, email@example.com, 777-6571