Aviation team hopes to launch to first place in competition


Brian Myers is the coach of Kent State University’s Precision Flight Team. The team is preparing for this year’s Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) at The Ohio State University. Photo by Anthony Vence.

Seth Cohen

Myles Grimm, junior aeronautics major, is one of 20 team members working his way to win first place in the Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference, also known as SAFECON.

“Usually, in years past, we would start a month before nationals,” Grimm said. “This time, we’re giving ourselves seven to eight months to practice for nationals and hopefully, we can improve our results.”

The SAFECON Competition, run by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, or NIFA, is a national competition to judge which school has the best aviation program. Participants are part of a flight and ground event to see how well they can fly, land and perfect the basics of flight engineering.

Last semester, Kent State’s aviation team came in third place for its region and ninth in the nation when it competed at Indiana State University. Now, Grimm said he and his team have been planning nonstop for the past eight months to work on what they need to improve to achieve first place overall. This semester’s competition will take place in May at The Ohio State University.

“The flight competition (last semester) consisted of navigating the plane safely and landing safely. We won that overall,” said Richard Mangrum, assistant professor in flight training. “Unfortunately, in the ground events, which consists of computer accuracy and aircraft recognition, we didn’t do so hot, but our goal is to change that at Ohio State.”

The team has been meeting four times a week since they returned from Indiana State, working day and night to improve its ground events. The team works as a study session, quizzing themselves on plane navigations, preflight inspections and computer accuracy.

Bryan Myers, coach of Kent State’s SAFECON team, said he has seen a lot of accomplishments from the team.

“I’ve been working with the team since last year,” Myers said. “And I have seen the improvements, so I know we’re ready for this year’s competition.”

According to NIFA’s website, there are 15 competitions each semester, and Kent State ranked first place in the school flight events and fourth place in the school ground events last fall.

“We were very lucky to enter in this competition last year because, out of 11 regions in the country, we were able to place third in our region,” Mangrum said. “But we still need to work on a few things because we’d like to win.”

Winning this competition would bring a lot of recognition not only to the team, but also to the school, Grimm said. Both he and Mangrum think this will come true if they keep the commitment they’ve been working on for nearly six months.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we’re all here working as a team, but we have a lot to work on,” Grimm said. “I just hope these past few months have been worth it all.”

Contact Seth Cohen at [email protected].