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The War Eagle Flying Team took second overall and first place in flying events at the NIFA SAFECON Region IX Competition Oct. 29–Nov. 2 at the Auburn University Regional Airport, earning the program a trip to the national competition May 12–17 in Columbus, Ohio.
“Due to the dedication and commitment of the advisors, coaches and teammates the War Eagle Flying Team was able to prove that we are the best pilots in the Southeast and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved,” said Blake Schuette, President of the War Eagle Flying Team and senior in Marketing in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.
Other schools participating included Jacksonville (Fla.) University, Florida Memorial University and Miami Dade College.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University from Daytona Beach, Fla., captured the overall region title, scoring big in ground events (ground trainer, simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, aircraft preflight inspection and computer accuracy). However, Auburn’s 15-member team outperformed ERAU in the flying events (navigation, power off precision landing, message drop and short field landings) using Cessna 172s to claim the Flying Event team championship trophy.
“What made us really excited is we outperformed Embry-Riddle in flying (385 to 359),” said Schuette, who came to Auburn from Flemington, N.J. “To beat the premier flight school is pretty exciting.”
Schuette’s performance in the air helped Auburn’s overall team score. Schuette nearly won the Top Pilot Award, finishing second to ERAU’s Devon Burris, and was the regional’s top-scoring female. In flying events, she took seventh place in navigation, was first place in power off precision landing, and sixth place in short field landings.
“This is my fourth regional,” said Schuette, “and up until Saturday I hadn’t really broken through in the rankings. This must have been my year.”
Schuette said she wants to continue flying and serve as an instructor, but also wants to pursue a marketing career possibly with a major airline or in the financial services industry.
Auburn’s crew also won the Regional Safety and Regional Sportsmanship awards. The War Eagle Flying Team finished third place overall in ground events with 173 points, trailing winner Embry Riddle, which amassed 314 points. Florida Institute of Technology was second in ground events with 201 points.
Individual awards to War Eagle Flying team members are as follows:
Of the War Eagle Flying Team’s 15 pilots, only five competed last year.
“We had 10 new people this year and to build them up … the team worked extremely hard,” Schuette said. “To see our new guys get in the top rankings was really awesome.” Loper, Smith and Lane, all freshmen, placed in the competition.
“Those three do not have pilots’ licenses yet,” beamed Schuette, “To compete in these events and place was huge.”
The team’s focus now turns to the 2014 SAFECON national competition, hosted by Ohio State University. Auburn finished 16th out of 29 teams in the 2013 SAFECON national competition, won by Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Ariz., campus.
“We want to make a name for ourselves in the nation,” Schuette added. In addition to the team’s success, by hosting the regional competition at Auburn University it is estimated that the event provided over $50,000 in incremental economic support for the community.
For more information regarding the event please contact Blake Schuette at (908)328-9982, email BNS0007@auburn.edu or David Hoebelheinrich at (952) 807-5156, email DPH0007@auburn.edu.