Precision flight team wins conference

Abbey Linville

With first place finish in SAFECON, squad moves to nationals

For the first time since anyone in the College of Technology can remember, the Precision Flight Team won first place in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Region III Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON).

The team of nearly 20 flight technology students competed in a total of 12 challenges spanning areas of navigation, flight precision, ground events, aircraft knowledge and cockpit teamwork.

Michael Fox, senior flight technology major, participated in four flight competitions and one ground competition.

“The nice thing about SAFECON is a lot of future employers have been a part of NIFA, and over 85 teams nationwide are part of this,” Fox said. “It’s a big recruitment tool that keeps us competitive.”

The competition, hosted at Kent State, included four other universities: Ohio State, Ohio University, Western Michigan University and Cincinnati.

During one of the landing competitions, pilots are required to pull back on the power supply to a specified point and fly in a rectangular pattern. They must then land the plane in a 300-foot box at the end of the runway lined with flour. In order to score the most points, competitors must land 100 feet from the front and 200 feet from the back of the line.

Another event the team participated in was the “message drop.” With the help and guidance of flight clinic student Calvin Carstensen, the team crafted a hand-made “message” to drop 200 feet into a 55-gallon barrel.

Fox said that a message is a rectangular object, approximately 4 inches wide and 8 inches long that must meet weight specifications to qualify. In past years, the team made the message out of various kinds of wood.

“We decided to make ours out of chicken wire,” said Fox. “It has to be a certain weight and a certain shape. When you fly over, you have to use wind calculations to determine where you’ll drop that message, based on where the winds are to hit.”

Kurt Wolf, senior flight technology major, flew as Fox’s pilot observer in the navigation competition. With set coordinates, the pilots had to estimate how much time it would take to fly to each of these points. A Global Positioning System is installed in the plane to measure how long students take to complete the challenge – every second, more or less, than the original estimation would result in a lower point total.

The team now plans to take part in the national competition May 17- 23 at Illinois’ St. Louis University.

“We really get a lot of support from the College of Technology and the aeronautics department,” Wolf said. “That alone has gotten us further than we’ve been. Having the support of the school behind us has really helped us to achieve first place, which three years ago when I started, seemed like an impossible thing to do.”

Isaac Nettey, College of Technology associate dean, said it is the first time Kent State has won regionals since any of the students were born.

“It’s been a long road with a commitment of over six years, and recognition that Kent – within this region and nationally – should be among the very best,” he said. “The College of Technology congratulates them on behalf of Kent State University for their success at regionals, and we encourage them to continue their outstanding performance at nationals.”

Contact college of technology reporter Abbey Linville at [email protected].