UCM Flight Team takes part in week-long competition, tests their skills

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Courtney Muns, for The Muleskinner

The 2011 Flight Team poses in front of one of their planes. Back row, left to right: Kohei Toyooka, Thomas Alwardt, Garrett Brucker, Parker Dorsey and Carl Wegener. Front row, left to right: Christian Korff, Toru Suda, Yuya Okamoto and Rebecca Speer. (Photo courtesy of the UCM Flight Team)

UCM is known for a number of various attributes, like a successful Greek life and specialized programs including nursing and interior design.
However, one program that people may be less familiar with is the UCM Flight Team.
According to the UCM website, the Flight Team is an organization that competes in regional and national competitions, meeting four times a week at the Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport Terminal.
The Flight Team is made up of student pilots who practice and acquire further knowledge of flying and operating airplanes, with Toru Suda as the coach and Thomas Alwardt as the captain.
The Flight Team competes in national and regional events hosted by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA), where pilots compete for a week in flight and ground events that challenge their flight skills.
“We will be competing against K-State, OSU, OU and Spartan in Tulsa this October,” Alwardt said. “The competition is a week long, and at the end of the week, score is taken and teams are ranked 1-20 for the overall total. The top three teams go to nationals to compete against teams all over the country.”
There are eight schools that compete with UCM in Region VI. The UCM Flight Team has participated in NIFA events since 1976 and has won 11 regional championships since 1991, according to its website.
The team often qualifies for nationals as well. For more information on flight competitions, visit     NIFA.us.
Events that the UCM Flight Team has scheduled include ground events, preflight events, simulator events, and landing events. The only competition scheduled at this time, the 2012 Region VI SAFECON, will be in October.
For specific event dates and times, contact the Flight Team at [email protected]
Team membership is open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements, which can be found at ucmflightteam.org.
Members of the Flight Team do not have to be aviation majors, and anyone who is interested in competing may practice with the team.
Students interested in joining the team may contact Thomas Alwardt, whose information can be found on the UCM website.
Students may also obtain more information from the Flight Team’s website or by visiting Student Activities in Union 217.