Top collegiate flight competitors soar in to Ohio State airport

Posted: May 24, 2022
Ohio State Flight Team and coaches pose with awards
Ohio State Flight Team students (right staircase) and coaches (left staircase) after the awards banquet

The Ohio State University Airport hosted the 2022 National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) national collegiate flight competition May 9-14. Nearly 500 event participants – including the Ohio State Flight Team and teams from 27 other schools – soared in to the university’s Don Scott Field for the pre-eminent competition that tests student pilots in a variety of flight and ground events.

“The Ohio State University Airport would like to thank the judges, volunteers, community and airport staff for helping make this event successful,” said Ohio State Director of Flight Education Brandon Mann. “Flight Education’s first priority is safety, and SAFECON provides one opportunity for our flight students to hone their skills in a national forum.”

Overall SAFECON champion was Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott, followed by University of North Dakota in second place and LeTourneau University – Longview in third place. The full listing of all team and individual awards is located on the NIFA website. Ohio State Flight Team ranked at seventh place in the championship and earned first place in Traditional Navigation (Dominic Parenti and Noah Pattan), along with other awards.

Reflecting on the event, Mann offered his well wishes to all competitors. “Congratulations to all university flight teams, and we wish them a great year ahead.”

Aerial view of SAFECON aircraft and airport ramp

Friendly competition

Fair weather throughout the week allowed the teams to enjoy friendly competition, visit sponsor booths, take part in recruitment events and network with peers and industry members.

Brynne Barr from the Ohio State Flight Team was enthusiastic about the SAFECON experience.

“Flight Team has presented me with an incredible opportunity to refine my pilot skills, build meaningful relationships with my peers and make connections with many experienced and passionate individuals in the aviation industry,” shared Barr. “As a freshman, I am thrilled to return these next three years as a competitor, and after that as a coach and proud alumnus.”

And, to Ohio State Co-Captain Devyn Thurman, SAFECON success can be far-reaching.

Students walking on the ramp with aircraft in the background

"SAFECON provides an incredible opportunity for collegiate flight students,” he said. It creates the space for students to not only improve their technical skills, but also to “form lasting friendships within the aviation industry before becoming a professional pilot."

This year marked the 12th time Ohio State has hosted the long-running event. It takes dedication, teamwork and skill to ensure a safe and successful competition. Leading the logistics for airfield support was airport Assistant Director of Operations Dale Gelter, who has been involved in SAFECON in various capacities since the 1980s.

“For Flight Team competitors, SAFECON is the event that challenges you at new airports and tests your piloting skills. It’s also the place where you make lifelong friendships with other people in the aviation industry,” commented Gelter. “It’s a privilege to have been involved as a student during college, a NIFA judge and an administrator at a host airport.”

Check out the below video to learn more about the 2022 NIFA SAFECON experience from the Ohio State Flight Team’s perspective. Selected event photos are available by following this link.

Airport media contact: Holly Henley, communications specialist, henley.53@osu.edu.

Category: Students