UVU’s School of Aviation Sciences’ flight team recently returned from competing in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Region 1 SAFECON competition held at KAFF – home of the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Each of the six participating schools sent three pairs to compete in Navigation. UVU placed 1st and 3rd, beating all three of the USAFA teams.
Aaron Cardon (pilot) and Ben Nielson (navigator) placed 1st in the Navigation event, beating USAFA on their home turf. USAFA has only been beaten two other times in the past decade. Doug Johnsen (pilot) and Rachel Hedman (navigator) placed 3rd.
Ben Nielson (drop master) and Robert Lopez (pilot) placed 3rd in the Message Drop event, dropping the messages only one foot short of the second place team.
All UVU competitors placed in at least two of their individual events, scoring team points.
UVU placed at least in the top 10 (out of 30) in 7 of the 9 events. See additional results below:
Aaron Cardon (pilot) and Ben Nielson (navigator) placed 1st in Navigation Ranking
Doug Johnsen (pilot) and Rachel Hedman (navigator) placed 3rd in Navigation Ranking
Ben Nielson (drop master) and Robert Lopez (pilot) placed 3rd in Message Drop Ranking
Aaron Cardon and Doug Johnsen both finished in the top ten in Top Pilot Award
Rachel Hedman placed 3rd in the Top Scoring Female Contestant
View all the results here.
I am honored to have been captain of such a great team and am proud of all their hard work. NIFA is a lot of work but it pays off when we get to fly around the country, network with pilots from other schools and have fun competing. It’s all well worth it. We are all so thankful for the support we get from the school, faculty, and staff and especially coach Russ Hopkinson who helped us achieve first place in the Navigation event this year. –Team Captain Aaron Cardon
The team practiced very hard for this event and won several awards competing against some of the best collegiate aviators in the United States.
It is always very rewarding to see them achieve so much knowledge and skill while truly enjoying every minute of it! A few of our students were forced to make some tough aeronautical decisions at times during the competition. They made smart, safe choices every time! This made the advisors, coaches, and their teammates proud! –Frank Manderino, Faculty Advisor, UVU Flight Team
Here are some photos from the event:
Special thanks to Team Captain Aaron Cardon for providing the results and Flight Club Vice President Rafael Lupo for the photos.