SDC Flight Team wins bid to nationals!

The San Diego Christian College Hawks Competition Flight Team placed third in Region II National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) championships held at San Jose State University last week.

For the 8th time in 9 years SDCC’s aviators qualified to compete in the national college flying championships at the Ohio State University in May. The top three teams from Region II received bids to nationals. Top honors went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the current reigning national champion, with San Jose State coming in second. A total of 108 pilots competed from 7 aviation colleges including the US Air Force Academy.

SDCC’s Flight Team consists of 12 competitors from the Aviation Department. Directed by Dr. John Marselus, the college trains pilots for missionary, military, commercial and unmanned systems on the Santee campus, and at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. The Aviation program began as the School of Missionary Aviation (SOMA) and is now an FAA Part 141 certified program with in a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Technology.

College Flight Teams compete in precision flying events including both powered and unpowered “spot” landings, cross-country navigation flights, message drop, instrument flight, and crew resource management exercises in the simulator. They also compete in ground testing and safety interviews. Team Captain Andy Grindeland said, “We have an awesome team. We worked very hard to prepare, and our team really pulled together when it counted.” Captain Grindeland, a junior in the SDCC Aviation program said, “Our goal was to honor God through our performance, and to make our school proud. We did that in spite of being an underdog on a short budget.” The Flight Team is funded solely from donations.

The team was led by performances from senior Matt Carter and Juan Nuñez-Fernandez, scoring 3rd place, and Chris Javner and Josh Spencer scoring 8th in the Navigation event. Normally the top ten scores earn points. Sophomore Blake Sortor placed 4th in Instrument Flying and 9th in Preflight. The highlight for the SDCC team was nearly sweeping the Message Drop event, taking first, second, fourth, and 10th place.

San Diego Christian College President Paul Ague was thrilled with his team’s performance, “The Aviation Department at SDCC is a jewel in college aviation and we are continually blessed by the efforts of our Flight Team. We are also pleased with their commitment to be competitively sound and spiritually inspired to make an impact for Christ in competition.”

Aviation competition is a visible demonstration of the safety training that takes place in college aviation programs around the country. The next generation of safe pilots are educated and developed thanks in part to these competitions.

All media requests should be made to:
Captain Denis Breslin, Flight Team Advisor, San Diego Christian College

San Diego Christian College was founded in 1970 by Dr. Tim LaHaye. It is an accredited Christian Liberal Arts Institution that seeks to prepare students to impact the world. Our faculty and administration desire that each and every student pursue an incredible educational experience while earning a Bachelor’s degree enroute to becoming the next generation of Christian leaders. The Aviation Degree program provides graduates with all aviation ratings including private, instrument, commercial, flight instructor and multi-engine. SDCC is FAA-approved for reduced experience Airline Transport Pilot rating at 1000 flight hours, and has career pipelines to all airlines and many UAS companies. It is also the only local college offering the private pilot rating for veterans seeking flight training under the GI Bill.