Lewis University Flight Team soared at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON), hosted by Ohio State University. The Lewis team earned 8th place overall, numerous individual awards and the Loening Trophy, which is annually awarded to the outstanding all-around collegiate aviation program in the nation.
“We are proud of our dedicated Flight Team students, faculty and staff for meriting the historic Loening Trophy as well as for excelling in knowledge and flight skills at SAFECON. The award represents superb achievement in aeronautical skills and signifies that Lewis University sets the standard for an overall outstanding collegiate aviation program,” Brother James Gaffney, FSC, president of Lewis University, commented. “Our commitment to the future of aviation and our emphasis on academics, community involvement, aviation skills, a comprehensive safety program and professionalism were key reasons for this award.”
The Loening Trophy was first awarded in 1929 by Dr. Grover Loening, the first aeronautical engineer for the Wright Brothers. It is considered the most prestigious and oldest of all collegiate aviation awards.
SAFECON brings together teams from 29 colleges and universities from across the country, with more than 300 students participating. The conference fosters competition and promotes teamwork between aviation students, educators and the aviation industry.
As a team, Lewis University continued its three-year Top Ten streak in the overall placement. In the ground events, Lewis University finished sixth in the nation. In the flight events, they finished in 16th place. Lewis University student Kayan Todiwalla earned the Harold S. Wood Award for Excellence, which includes an engraved propeller trophy and a $1,000 cash award. The sophomore student was honored for his excellence in academics, aviation-related extra-curricular activities and non-aviation related extra-curricular activities.
Individual highlights included Jacob Luetdke finishing as the 10th highest scoring contestant in the competition. Erik Rasmussen earned first place in the Certified Flight Instructor event. Of the 58 competitors in the Aircraft Preflight Inspection, James Vandeventer finished in third place and Robert Beckmann finished in fifth place. Finishing in fourth and fifth respectively, Jack Mullen and Rasmussen received high marks in the Ground Trainer event.
Team members of the Flight Team include graduate student Jacob Luedtke, senior James Vandeventer, senior Andrew Baniecki, senior Nirav Patel, junior Erik Rasmussen, junior Robert Beckmann. It also includes sophomores Matt Pall, Cody Marks, Jack Mullen, Kayan Todiwalla, Alex Kwiatkowski, George Chiampas, Kevin Deboissiere, Kyle Budewitz and Kyle Jachcinski.
The Lewis University Flight Team is coached by Head Coach Megan Zahos, Tom Muntzenberger and Jacob Luedtke and advised by Al Szoldatits.
Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition, offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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