BGSU Falcon Flight Team to apply education, skills at national aviation competition

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Representing the nationally ranked aviation program at Bowling Green State University, the Falcon Flight Team will showcase their ground and air skills at the upcoming national competition of the country’s top collegiate pilots.

The BGSU Falcon Flight Team qualified for the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) competition following the regional competition in the fall. This is the team's first appearance at the national level since 1997.

BGSU will compete in 10 ground and air events alongside 31 teams from across the U.S. from May 13-18 in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Falcon Flight Team is a student organization comprised 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.

“I’m so proud of our team's growth this year and their commitment to practicing and fine-tuning their skills and knowledge to perform at a peak level,” said BG Flight Center Chief Flight Instructor Catherine Smith, ‘98, ‘08, also a faculty teaching professor in the School of Aviation. “This is a proud moment for BGSU and our School of Aviation.”

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.

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.

In addition to placing in six events at regionals, the Falcon Flight Team 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.”

Recent alumnus Ben Dodge, ‘24 competed in five events at regionals, placing in three, and said he is excited for the team to showcase their skills on a national stage.

“I’m beyond thrilled to be going to nationals,” Dodge said. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone to see a higher level of competition. It will make us better pilots by helping us sharpen our skills and refine our abilities in the aircraft and on the ground.”

BGSU sophomore and fellow Falcon Flight Team member Cori King will also compete in several events at nationals. King said her growth since enrolling in the BGSU aviation program has been transformational.

“When I first came to BGSU and joined the flight team, I had very little knowledge of planes and didn’t have my private pilot’s license,” she said. “Now, I’m competing with the team at nationals. It seems surreal, but our team has worked harder than I’ve ever seen anyone work. It’s rewarding that our hard work has paid off.”

Updated: 07/01/2024 03:35PM