BGSU Falcon Flight Team shines at national aviation competition

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Bowling Green State University Falcon Flight Team placed among the top 20 teams nationally at a recent competition of the country’s top collegiate aviation programs, demonstrating the strength and legacy of safety of the University’s aviation program.

The BGSU Falcon Flight Team competed in 14 ground and air events alongside 31 teams from across the United States during the six-day National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) competition in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The team scored in the top 10 in preflight inspection, crew resource management, aviation maintenance, and message drop, which challenges a pilot and drop master to drop a message container onto two targets during a low pass of the runway at 200 feet above the ground.

The team’s performance in those events exhibited their exemplary ground and air knowledge and skill — each requiring keen attention to detail, precision and mastery—and contributed to finishing in the top 20 overall.

“BGSU competes in one of the most challenging regions in NIFA each fall with the goal of advancing to the national competition,” said Catherine Smith, ‘98, ‘08, chief flight instructor at the BG Flight Center and a faculty teaching professor in the School of Aviation.

“The journey back to competing at the national level has required incredible dedication and perseverance from our student competitors. It paid off this spring, putting the BGSU Falcon Flight Team back on the map for national intercollegiate competition rankings. It was an absolute honor to represent BGSU at that level.”

The Falcon Flight Team is a student organization composed of about 25 students. Many are pursuing the flight technology and operations specialization in the aviation studies degree program in the BGSU School of Aviation.

The team placed in six events at the regional competition in the fall, scoring enough points to earn an invitation to the national competition for the first time since 1997.

During regionals, the Falcon Flight Team also took home the NIFA Safety Award for the sixth time since 1997. Smith, who advises the team, said the honor exemplifies the University’s commitment to prioritizing safety.

“The students have to convey how they envision safety and how they live and breathe that culture,” Smith said. “Safety is paramount at BGSU, and it’s evident that our students are taking what we’re teaching them in their flight training and academics and putting it into practice.”

Ranked fourth in the nation by FLYING magazine, the BGSU aviation program is one of the largest in Ohio and the U.S., and BGSU is one of the few universities in the country with an airport on its campus.

As part of a unique public-private partnership with Northstar Aviation, seven new aircraft and three new flight simulators were added to the BGSU fleet in 2023, bolstering the University’s commitment to training students with modern technology.

Responding to workforce needs, BGSU partners with Republic Airways, one of the largest regional airlines in the U.S., to provide students with a faster pathway to a career in aviation.

“The beautiful thing about the Falcon Flight Team is that it’s core to the aviation program’s mission of preparing students to take their skills, knowledge and decision-making into a practical setting,” Smith said. “Competing at a regional and national level provides invaluable experience that allows them to hone their skills as they continue their degrees or prepare to begin their careers.”

Updated: 05/22/2024 01:14PM