Image: UND

It’s been nine years since the University of North Dakota Flying Team won the SAFECON competition, but don’t let that under-represent the team’s stellar track record. It has placed first or second in 30 of the last 36 competitions, hosted by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA).

Made up of challenges ranging from “aircraft recognition to manually navigating cross-country flights,” SAFECON pits flying universities from across the country against each other in what is a friendly but ultimately intense six days of competition. “This was a total team effort,” UND’s head coach Lewis Liang said. “We had a young team that had to work hard after losing experienced upperclassmen. They knew it was a rebuilding year, and we asked them to do their best—they gave it their best this week.”

You can download the final results here (PDF), but some of the highlights include Southern Illinois University garnering the most points in the combined flight events categories while Embry-Riddle’s Prescott students topped the ground events categories. UND managed a very close second in both categories, which helped it land the overall prize. Oklahoma State’s Heather Atkinson won the CFI category. Purdue University’s Thomas Sherringham and David Tang crushed it in the CRM/LOFT (cockpit resource management/line-oriented flight training) category. UND’s Liang took home top honors as Coach of the Year.

To get a sense of the challenges these students faced and the joy the exhibited by landing at the top of the podium, take a swipe through the SAFECON awards banquet live-stream video below.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.