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Flight team takes their knowledge to the sky

By April M. Blackmon



Photo by April Blackmon.

Flight team captain Brad Amstutz, senior in aviation,(left), adviser Troy Brockway, assistant professor of aviation, and team coach Aaron Brammeier, graduate of K-State at Salina.

For the past 11 years, Kansas State University at Salina's flight team has engaged in air battles. Not your ordinary battles with machine guns and missles, but rather battles with clocks and rulers.

The flight team has been competiting in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's National Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference — SAFECON.

The competition is devoted to the skill, safety, sport and education in college flying. A series of ground and flight events are conducted during the competition.

"It's a good way to meet aviators with similar interests and backgrounds," said Troy Brockway, adviser and assistant professor of aviation at K-State at Salina.

Ground events include pre-flight inspection, aircraft recognition, instrument proficiency in a ground-based simulator and computer accuracy. Flight events include short-field precision landing, power-off precision landing, cross-country navigation and message drop.

Preparation for the regional SAFECON competition is intense, since it begins just two months before the competition, said team captain Brad Amstutz, senior in aviation at K-State at Salina.

"It's tough in the beginning. We practice four times a week to prepare for the regional competition," Amstutz said. "We don’t rely on meetings, you have to practice on your own time, which is a challenge."

While practices are intense during the first two months of school, it's paying for the training that's the real challenge, said flight team coach Aaron Brammeier.

"We pay for all the training ourselves, which makes it tough," said Brammeier, a recent graduate of K-State at Salina. "We rarely practice the navigation event because of the costs. But we do practice the two landing events often. And the ground events we practice quite a deal since they don't cost anything."

While the expenses and practices seem tough, team members said it did not deter them from signing up.

"I just love the flight team," said Brammeier, who competed for two years while he was a student at K-State at Salina and decided to coach the team after he graduated. "Not only does it give me the chance to improve my flight skills, but I also get the chance to meet a lot of people and make contacts."

Amstutz, who has competed for four years, said he joined the team because it sounded like fun.

"I got to see the national competition at Salina at orientation, went to my first meeting when school started and got hooked," he said. The college hosted the Regional SAFECON in 1996 and 2002 and hosted the National SAFECON in 1998 and 1999, which included more than 30 schools across the nation competing for the national championship of college flying.

Sidebar: SAFECON events

Winter 2002