After 19 years, flight team is set to compete nationally once again

David Carr

Members of the Kent State Precision Flight Team help taxi a plane for the navigation event during last week’s Safety and Flight Evaluation Competition (SAFECON) hosted by Western Michigan University at Battle Creek University. The team competes in a mix

Credit: Jason Hall

The Kent State Flight Team took second place in the Region 3 competition of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association. The competition was heldlast week at Western Michigan University in Battle Creek, Mich.

Taking second place means the team will go on to compete on the national level in May of 2006. This is the first time that Kent State has qualified for the national level of the NIFA competition in 19 years.

“When I came here four years ago, the team was not performing at the level you would expect a Kent State team to perform,” said Isaac Nettey, senior academic program director of aeronautics. “So we have systematically strived to improve the competitiveness of the team.”

Last year, Kent State hosted the regional competition and lost a chance to go to the national competition by only six points, said Richard Mangrum, adviser for the Kent State Flight Team.

“Right after that, we sat down and made a commitment to not let it happen again,” he said. “We just worked hard.”

Jason Bond, senior flight technology major, said the team practiced intensely to prepare for the competition.

“I was probably practicing 25 hours a week for the whole fall,” he said. “By all means it was worth it.”

Bond won the short-field landing event, which is where a pilot must land on a specific mark on the runway with the engines on. Bond competed in four other events as well, placing in three of them.

“It feels awesome,” he said. “It’s a great accomplishment, and it looks good for trying to get jobs.”

Scott Horning, senior flight technology major, also competed and placed in six events.

“I’m feeling very privileged to have the team we did,” he said. “It feels good to have a strong, dedicated group.”

Kent State’s team won and placed in several other events. The team also beat both Ohio State and Ohio University.

“The other schools that we compete against make this a very tough region,” Mangrum said. “We did a great job.”

Bond and his teammates are celebrating their victory, but they are also planning for the upcoming national competition. Their goal will be to finish in the top five, he said.

“We’re strong in the flying events, but we need to work on the ground events to catch up to OSU and Michigan,” he said. “The ground events are where we really need to focus.”

Mangrum agreed that the team will need to work harder to compete at the national level.

“It’s the same events, but it’s a completely different level of competition,” Mangrum said.

The national competition will be held at Ohio State in Columbus May 8 through May 13, 2006.

“We’re very proud of their accomplishments and grateful for their historic success,” Nettey said. “We will support them as they prepare for an excellent showing.”

Contact transportation reporter David Carr at [email protected].