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Liberty NIFA team wins Loening Trophy for top collegiate aviation program

Members of Liberty’s NIFA team with the Loening Trophy

The Liberty University School of Aeronautics NIFA Flight Team was awarded the prestigious Loening Trophy at the conclusion of the 2024 National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) National SAFECON competition on May 18 at Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville, Wis.

This is the fourth year Liberty has received the award (the team won in 2017, 2018, and 2019).

“We are incredibly proud of how our Champions for Christ represented Christ and Liberty at this year’s NIFA SAFECON,” School of Aeronautics Interim Dean Steven Brinly said. “Winning the Loening Trophy in four of the last six competitions is a testament to our School of Aeronautics team’s commitment to innovation and excellence in training as we equip, mentor, and send Champions for Christ into the aerospace community.”

The award, not based on performance in the SAFECON competition, is presented annually to the outstanding all-around collegiate aviation program in the nation and is the rarest and oldest of all collegiate aviation awards. Teams are judged on a number of criteria, including performance in NIFA competitions and aviation skills, and an emphasis on academics, community involvement, professionalism, a comprehensive safety program, and pro-active advancement of the future of aviation.

The pure silver Tiffany-designed trophy was commissioned and first awarded in 1929 when aviation pioneer and inventor Dr. Grover Loening saw a need to annually recognize the most outstanding achievements of today’s college aviation programs. Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart were among the judges for the inaugural competition.

The National SAFECON competition includes a series of ground- and flight-based events such as preflight inspections, navigations, planning a cross-country flight, message drops, and precision landing. Liberty earned its spot in this year’s SAFECON after winning its 18th straight Region X Championship in October. The team finished 15th overall in this year’s championship (view the full results), among 32 universities represented from around the country.

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