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Flight Team lands prestigious “Spirit of Excellence Award” at regional Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference

The Flight Team is back from Auburn, Ala., after going head-to-head with some of the nation’s top flight programs in the Region IX National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s (NIFA) Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON).

Competing schools this year included Auburn University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona), Florida Institute of Technology, JU and Polk State College.

In only the second time in the School of Aviation‘s history, the Flight Team received the prestigious “Spirit of Excellence Award.” The award is given in recognition of aeronautical knowledge in the pursuit of flight safety excellence.

The award, given by The Society of Experimental Test Pilot Foundation, honors the team’s performance, the coach’s and University’s commitment to Aeronautical Programs and the team’s dedication to excel during the NIFA regional competition.

In addition to our team award, JU brought home 10 individual trophies. Team member awards included Samuel Ayala (9th Place Ground Trainer, 7th Place Message Drop, 9th Place Navigation), Matthew Brinker (10th Place Preflight and 7th Place Aircraft Recon), Rachel Chaput (7th Place Preflight, 7th Place Message Drop), Owen Nicely (10th Place Aircraft Recon),  and Vito Colella (9th Place Navigation, 9th Place Power Off Landings).

Capt. Matt Tuohy

“The team’s success is the result of the hard work and dedication of team members and the dedication of the team advisors,” said Capt. Matt Tuohy, Director of the School of Aviation. “Their success also speaks volumes for the quality of the flight training that students receive at JU through L3 Airline Academy. The JU Flight Team is grateful for the support given by Jacksonville University and L3 Airline Academy.”

The team was led by advisors Prof. Chad Kendall and Mr. Erick Lanier, and team captains Chris Pelham, Christopher Stipo, Megan Birtalan, Vito Colella and Rachel Chaput.

The 14 members who participated in the Regional Competition included Parker Plumley, Megan Birtalan, Siu Shing Kwok, Cobe Wordlaw, Morgan Carney, Santiago Solano, Nick Tonks, Owen Nicely, Matthew Brinker, Samuel Ayala, Chris Stipo, Chris Pelham, Rachel Chaput and Vito Colella.

The JU School of Aviation in the Davis College of Business has been educating and training future professional pilots and aviation executives for more than 30 years. In 1996, JU established a one-of-a-kind training partnership with an airline’s training center, L3 Airline Academy (formerly Aerosim Flight Academy), to educate and train future airline pilots. JU is one of the first 30 universities in the world with bachelor degree programs accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI), and one of 36 universities in the U.S. selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to offer an Air Traffic Control Program under the FAA’s collegiate training initiative (CTI).