Kent State University’s Precision Flight Team recently attended the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s 2010 SAFECON (Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference) competition and walked away with the prestigious Loening Trophy. The Loening Trophy is the rarest and oldest of all collegiate aviation awards. It is a perpetual trophy presented annually to the outstanding all-around collegiate aviation program in the nation.
The SAFECON competition was held May 17 through 22 at Indiana State University in Terra Haute, Ind. More than 450 students representing 29 aviation colleges and universities from across the country competed against each other in 13 different flying and non-flying events. Events included landing, navigation, planning and aircraft recognition.
The Kent State Precision Flight Team consists of 20 students. After placing second in a regional competition, the team advanced to the national event. The team began practices in January 2010 for the May contest. In addition to being awarded the Loening Trophy, Kent State placed ninth overall in the nation and finished sixth in flying events.
Individual team members received high honors for their performance in the 2010 SAFECON competition. Senior Evan Taylor placed first in the Power-Off Landing, making it the second year in a row that Kent State won that event. Sophomore Kelly Merwin and senior Brian Myers took second place in the Message Drop event. Overall, Taylor placed 13th out of 290 men, senior Thomas Thompson finished 34th overall for men and Merwin finished second overall for women.
The pure silver, Tiffany-designed Loening Trophy was commissioned and first awarded in 1929 when aviation pioneer and inventor Dr. Grover Loening saw a need to annually recognize the most outstanding achievements of today’s college aviation programs. Dr. Loening, who was the first aeronautical engineer for the Wright Brothers, asked his friends and famous pilots Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Navy Commander John Towers to assist Loening in judging the first competition. The original Loening Trophy is still awarded today and is considered the most prestigious award at the annual SAFECON competition.
The award represents superb achievement in aeronautical skills and represents the current benchmark for an overall outstanding collegiate aviation program. Keys for selecting the award recipient include emphasis placed on academics, community involvement, aviation skills and their advancement, a comprehensive safety program and professionalism combined with a proactive enhancement of the future of aviation.
“The team’s success is a testament to not only our students’ efforts, but also to all of the faculty and staff who have helped make Kent State’s aeronautics program so excellent,” said Maureen McFarland, academic program director of aeronautics and assistant professor at Kent State. “Congratulations to the team, their captains Brian Myers and Jeff Adelman, and their faculty advisors and coaches Dr. Richard Mangrum and Professor Timothy Palcho for being the 2010 recipient of the Loening Trophy.”
For more information on Kent State’s aeronautics program, visit www.kent.edu/tech/aero.