USAFA flying team earns 31st consecutive intercollegiate victory

Cadet First Class Patrick Neff prepares to start the T-51 Deathhawk engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by C3C Josiah Bierle)

Cadet First Class Patrick Neff prepares to start the T-51 Deathhawk engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by C3C Josiah Bierle)

70th FTS Maj. Keith Hobart briefs competitors before the October National Intercollegiate Flying Association landing competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Matt Cummins)

70th FTS Maj. Keith Hobart briefs competitors before the October National Intercollegiate Flying Association landing competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Matt Cummins)

70th FTS Powered Flight Commander Maj. Matt Cummins judges landings during the October National Intercollegiate Flying Association Competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by C2C Carter Thorne)

70th FTS Powered Flight Commander Maj. Matt Cummins judges landings during the October National Intercollegiate Flying Association Competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by C2C Carter Thorne)

Cadets in a T-51 Deathhawk pass overhead at 200 feet above ground level and release a message container during the October National Intercollegiate Flying Association message drop event. (U.S. Air Force photo by C3C Josiah Bierle)

Cadets in a T-51 Deathhawk pass overhead at 200 feet above ground level and release a message container during the October National Intercollegiate Flying Association message drop event. (U.S. Air Force photo by C3C Josiah Bierle)

USAFA Flying Team National Intercollegiate Flying Association competition champions pose with their awards during the award ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tsali Bentley)

USAFA Flying Team National Intercollegiate Flying Association competition champions pose with their awards during the award ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tsali Bentley)

JOINT-BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas --

The U.S. Air Force Academy’s precision flying team, assisted by 70th Flying Training Squadron Air Force Reserve instructor pilots, earned its 31st consecutive win at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association 2017 Region I Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON).

 

During the week-long competition hosted at the USAF Academy, cadets contended with five visiting schools (Colorado Northwestern Community College, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Rocky Mountain College, Utah State University and Westminster College) in air and ground collegiate aviation events, including precision landing, message drop, navigation, and simulator training. Military and civilian judges from around the country traveled to Colorado to assess competitors’ aviation skills and knowledge. When the final scores were tallied, the Academy’s Precision Flying Team rose to the top (with first place finishes in all 10 ground and flying event categories), seizing the overall championship, ground event championship and flying event championship.

 

The Academy’s Flying Team is composed of 27 cadets supported by a Total Force instructor pilot cadre from the active-duty 557th and Reserve 70th Flying Training Squadron. The team’s mission is to develop a foundation of excellence and leaders of character through powered flight training, which includes rigorous preparation and three collegiate-level competitions per year (Region I, Region II and the national championship). 

 

According to Cadet 3rd Class Josiah Bierle, first-year flying team member, flying team graduates historically attend undergraduate pilot training and often earn coveted Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program slots. Most, he said, go on to fly various airframes operationally. 

“70th FTS Instructor Pilots comprise approximately 60-70 percent of the flying team's instructor force, providing crucial long-term continuity over the complex three-year instructional syllabus,” said 70th FTS Powered Flight Commander Maj. Matt Cummins. “From professional flight instruction and mentorship to competition judging and supervision, Reservists offer dynamic mission support for our collegiate Airmanship programs and Total Force mission partners.”