November 10, 2016 : By Liberty University News Service
The Liberty University School of Aeronautics NIFA Flight Team won first place at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region X (10) Championship for the 12th straight time Nov. 2-5 at Franklin (Va.) Municipal Airport. The top finish qualifies Liberty’s team for nationals at Ohio State University in May.
Schools competed in a series of ground and flight-based events. Ground events included preflight inspections, navigations, and planning a cross-country flight. Flight events included message drops and precision landing. Liberty had the top combined score for both ground and flight events and was also given the School Safety Award.
Liberty’s Brandon Harrison was runner-up for the Top Pilot Award.
In the navigation competition, Liberty’s team overcame challenging obstacles, including high winds, to sweep the top three spots. The duo of Harrison and Stevie Andros had the highest score, followed by Katie Wagner/Connor McMillin and Bill Hartley/Alex Gerena.
On the last day of competition, Liberty’s team participated in the message drop event, where they conducted two passes with two message containers in an attempt to drop them from the aircraft into a 55-gallon container on the ground. Liberty’s duo of Andros and Russell Page succeeded with first-place marks.
“I’m very proud of our team, 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 Anton Cihak, Liberty’s director of Flight Operations.
Liberty team members also earned first-place honors for aircraft recognition (Hartley), flight computer accuracy (Hartley), ground trainer-simulator flight (Conor McCann), power-off landings (Harrison), short field landings (Tristan Diepenbrock), and Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (Harrison).
“I’m blessed and honored to be a part of the team,” said Cihak, who took the top spot in the coach’s landing competition. “I am excited, as we have built this team up, and I think in reality, we’ve got the right mix of people in the right places this year to have a shot of being in the top three in the competition in May.”
Complete results are available online.