Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Several years ago, the flight school I work for had a very competitive flight team.  There are stacks and stacks of trophies shoved in closets, on top of file cases, and in trophy cases from when previous year's flight teams ruled the region, and even in some cases nationals.  Over the past few years, we have had some budget issues as well as student motivation issues.  We made it to the 2007 national SAFECON as an alternate only because the host school had enough space for us on the ramp and the assistant chief at the time managed to weasel his way into it.  We did not end up going to regional competition in 2007 due to lack of student motivation.  There were guys that said they wanted to go, but they really didn't give a darn about committing themselves to it.  Last year, we managed to send only four guys. I was planning on going as an adviser, but for reasons beyond my control I was unable to attend.  We placed last out of all the schools in attendance; however, we did manage to win the sportsmanship award for outstanding sportsmanship during the event.

This year we did one better.  We sent 12 students, which in and of itself was an improvement over last year, and I went as the adviser. Eight of the twelve students were freshmen and only one out of the twelve guys had ever participated in a regional SAFECON before.

It was an interesting five days to say the least.  The whole thing started off with bad weather.  We were only able to send one airplane, a C-172, because the other additional airplane we planned on using, a DA20-C1, was certified for VFR only.  We managed to knock out all the ground events on Wednesday sicne we could not fly due to weather.  Thursday, we only were able to accomplish the preflight and ground trainer events. Finally on Friday, the weather cleared up enough for everyone to get some flying done.  We began with the power off precision landings, followed by the short-field landings, and wrapped up the day with the message drop event.  Unfortunately, due to time and weather we were not able to do the navigation event.

Our team placed sixth out of seven teams this year, but we did manage to walk away with the Team Safety Award.  This award is given to the team that excercises the best safety practices throughout the whole event.  Also, one of our co-captains placed fifth in the preflight event.  He aslo barely missed placing in the top five in the SCAN event.  He tied with another competitor but the other guy finished his test a minute earlier, so our guy placed sixth.  Several of our other students also placed within the top twenty of their respective events.

While we had a really young team this year, I think they all learned a lot from their experiences.  I am very proud of the way my crew conducted themselves during and after the events and am looking forward to having a stronger team next year.

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