Falcons Flight Team Competes in the NIFA SAFECON Nationals

[Pictured: L-R: Donna Wilt (Advisor), Anthony Ferendo (Captain), Connor Shea, Brandon Bourne, Emily Siggins (Captain-Elect), Ryan Warner, Timothy Moriarty, Jack McCormack, Austin Catherman]

by Emily Siggins, Aviation Management with Flight ‘13

On May 10th, 2012 the Falcons Flight Team of Florida Institute of Technology departed from Melbourne, Florida on their 13 hour journey to Salina, Kansas. Since the trip to Kansas is just over 1000 nautical miles, the team decided to split the journey up over two days. The first day ended in Birmingham, Alabama and the second day ended with the arrival in Salina, Kansas. It was a long and exhausting trip but the team thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery!

Once arriving in Salina, the team got used to the airport and became familiar with the local amenities. Kansas was definitely different from Florida and the team had a lot to get used to and quick! The first few days in Salina were devoted to practicing and preparing for the upcoming competition. Final decisions on who would be competing in each event were made and the team put on their game faces.

The first day of competition witnessed all of the ground events (Computer Accuracy, Aircraft Recognition and SCAN). The events proved tough and challenging but the team put in their best efforts! That night the team continued to prepare for the first flight event: Navigation. Each member who was to complete the planning portion of this event practiced locating coordinates on various charts and filling out flight plans. In the real event, they would only have 30 minutes to do so! As the navigation day progressed, the Falcons navigations teams went out and completed their route to the best of their abilities given the different situations. It was another long but exciting day for the teams.

The next two days were slotted for the landing events but Mother Nature was not cooperating. Luckily, we were able to complete one full set of landings on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the winds became so strong and gusty on Thursday that the events were suspended for the day. It was determined that they would get one round of Message Drop (the best event!) in, and then try again for the landings on Friday. In order to do this, the Falcons had an early report time of 6:30 a.m. Friday morning rolled around and one round of Message Drop was completed but the winds picked up again and it was decided that the event would be cancelled.

The host school, Kansas State, provided the competing teams with a social event on Friday night to allow all the teams to get to know each other. This event was a casino night with various casino games set up! You even had the chance to win a new Bose headset! Saturday evening was the awards banquet for the entire competition and gave the team a chance to get all dressed up! As the results were announced, it showed the Falcons gave it their best. The Message Drop team placed 18th overall and the Crew Resource Management team placed 13th!

As the Falcons tried to make their way back to Florida, winds caused them to spend an extra day in Kansas. Finally on Monday, May 21st, the team headed back to Melbourne on their 1000 mile journey over two days. The week was long and tiring but the Falcons had a great time and sincerely enjoyed this experience. Next year’s Nationals will be at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and the Falcons are already preparing.

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