Aviation team wins 14th-straight regional title
A flight team from the Liberty University School of Aeronautics landed its 14th straight regional championship in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Region X SAFECON championship last weekend at Chesapeake Regional Airport. This puts Liberty on a flight path to Janesville, Wis., May 13-18, for the national championship.
“I’m very proud of our men and women, and I’m very thankful for the support Liberty University continues to provide them and for their desire to develop their aviation skills while honoring and glorifying Jesus Christ through aviation,” said Tony Cihak, the team’s adviser and chair of Liberty’s Flight Science Department. “I’m confident that with this continued support and a lot of hard work by our world-class competitors, we will have a very strong showing at the national championship in the spring.”
NIFA competitions include a series of ground- and flight-based events where student pilots are judged on safety and skill. Events include preflight inspection, aircraft recognition, navigation, a comprehensive written exam, various landing competitions, and a message drop, where teams drop a message container 200 feet from an aircraft toward a ground target.
Liberty had the highest combined score for both ground and flight events.
In addition to the overall region championship, Liberty was awarded the School Safety Award. Josh Engberg was named the Outstanding Team Member, and senior Stephen Andros won Top Pilot for the second year in a row. Cihak earned Region X Coach of the Year honors.
“I couldn’t have gotten any title without the training I’ve received from all the instructors throughout my time at Liberty,” said Andros, who is studying commercial/corporate aeronautics. “This award honors them and it also shows all of the hard work they have invested in me and how good Liberty’s flight program is.”
He said that his three years on the team have been a “résumé booster.”
Liberty will return to the National SAFECON as two-time defending Loening Trophy holders. The trophy is awarded to the outstanding overall collegiate aviation program — schools are judged on a number of criteria, including competition performance, aviation skills, community involvement, safety, and academics. The trophy is currently on display on the first floor of the Jerry Falwell Library.
Liberty NIFA Region X winners
Aircraft Recognition: William Knight – 2nd
Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (SCAN): Carl Baumann – 2nd, William Knight – 3rd
Flight Computer Accuracy: Carl Baumann – 1st, John McFarland – 2nd, Isaac Davis – 3rd
Preflight: Chloe Cady – 3rd
Power-off Landings: Isaac Davis – 2nd, Stephen Andros – 3rd
Short Field Landings: Stephen Andros – 2nd, Peter McCord – 3rd
Message Drop: Andre Deneault (Pilot), Austin Freier (Drop Master) – 2nd; Carl Baumann (Pilot), Junyoung Cho (Drop Master) – 3rd
Navigation: John McFarland (Pilot), Morgan Dillard (Navigator) – 1st; Stephen Andros (Pilot), Chloe Cady (Navigator) – 2nd; Isaac Davis (Pilot), Austin Freier (Navigator) – 3rd