NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma Flying Sooners flight team qualified for national championship competition.
This is the first time in more than three decades that OU’s flight team qualified to compete for a national championship. They earned the qualification during the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region IV SAFECON, which took place Oct. 5-9 at Max Westheimer Airport in Norman, according to an OU news release.
“SAFECON is NIFA’s premier collegiate flight competition, bringing together collegiate pilots to compete for awards in a variety of aviation skills,” the news release states.
Teams competed in five ground events and four flying events, including flight planning, navigation, landing and aircraft recognition, in a series of written exams, as well as simulated and real-world flying skills tests.
OU’s 15-member team placed third, earning them a trip to nationals on the strength of seven Top 5 finishes and 19 Top 10 finishes across nine events during the three-day competition. The team also placed second overall in combined ground event scoring and fifth overall in the flight events.
The Flying Sooners team and the student host committee received the Red Barron Sportsmanship Award for outstanding sportsmanship and hospitality.
“Everybody chose to come to OU because it’s an amazing flying university,” said team co-captain Scott Wardrop. “We’re not just some of the best pilots here at OU, but in the nation.”
The Flying Sooners will be part of a 30-team field in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in May 2020 at NIFA’s 100th Anniversary SAFECON. They will compete alongside fellow Region IV representatives Oklahoma State University and LeTourneau University–Longview (Texas).