- By Jeremy Angione
- Published: October 23rd, 2012
Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics (SOA) flight team won its regional competition for the 8th year in a row over several other collegiate competitors, including the United States Naval Academy at Elizabeth City State University, Oct. 11-14, according to Coach Kyle Dillon.
Most team members agree that ground events are where the flight team excelled.
“The real key to victory for our team is consistency throughout the competition,” Dillon said. “The biggest encouragement about this year is every (team member) scored points. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.”
According to coaches Dillon and Charity Holland, the entire team contributed to their overall success. Several members of the team were key players in the team’s overall victory. The contributions of Zach Floto, Melanie Evans, Patrick Spencer, Nathan Edwards, Matt Sylvester, Corbin Brown and Bryan Ingram were particularily significant.
According to Floto, he received second place in navigation and first in ground training. Evans stated that she achieved second in the computer accuracy event and first in the simulated comprehensive air navigation test. Both Brown and Sylvester placed first in navigation, according to Holland. According to Ingram, he received second place for power-off precision landings. Nathan Edwards was the top pilot and Melanie Evans was recognized as the top female pilot.
The National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) lists Liberty’s SOA flight team members as taking four out of the top five spots in the navigation rankings alone.
“I felt a lot of pressure from my team and the school to do well because we have been the defending champions for seven years now,” Evans said. “However, as soon as I’d sit down in the familiar airplane, I’d feel comfortable and at ease again, and ready to do what I had been trained for.”
This victory did not come without great effort and tough training, according to Dillon.
“We pushed them. They knew if there was a hint of slack in their efforts it could lead to being cut,” Dillon said.
Dillon assured that he and Holland encouraged the team to do their best in representing Liberty and Christ.
“I think our success could be attributed to all of the hard work and perseverance that we have put in and most importantly, (to) the time and dedication our coaches put in to make sure we could be the best possible team we could possibly be,” Evans said.
Both Holland and Dillon agreed that the flight portion of the competition is where the team needs to make the most improvements, especially for nationals.
The team’s Christ-like behavior and competitive spirit was recognized by receiving the Red Baron award for outstanding team sportsmanship, according to Dean of the SOA, Gen. David Young.
According to Dillon, the flight team will be competing again in May 2013 at Ohio State University for the national portion of the competition. To gain further information on the NIFA competitions and results, students can visit liberty.edu/aviation or nifa.us.
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