San Diego Christian College (SDC) Hawks Competition Flight Team launched two airplanes on a cross-country journey to compete in the national college flying championships at The Ohio State University on Wednesday.
The NIFA SAFECON events (Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference), are held annually to determine the top collegiate pilots among 30 aviation college teams qualifying for nationals.
Four of SDCC’s Flight Team pilots are flying their competition aircraft 2,000 miles for the week-long competition beginning May 9.
San Diego Christian College aviation students train at SAA Int’l on Gillespie Field in El Cajon. The Flight Team consists of 11 competitors from the aviation program who compete in regional contests to earn invitations to the national championships.
SDC is the only collegiate aviation program in San Diego County and the underdog Hawks have earned bids to the national championships in eight of the past nine years.
College Flight Teams compete in precision flying and aviation skills including spot landings, precision navigation, message drop accuracy, instrument profiles, and crew resource management exercises in the simulator. SDCC captain Andy Grindeland said, “We have a very tight team this year. We have several veterans with national championship experience and we are looking forward to making a strong showing.”
Team Advisor Captain Denny Breslin praised his team and the pilots who fly the planes to Ohio and back, “Flying across the terrain and weather through the Ohio Valley is always a challenge in the spring weather, but it is also a testament to the excellent training at San Diego Christian College. It shows our pilots are technically sound, make good decisions, and can fly safely anywhere in the country.”
San Diego Christian College competes in NIFA Region II (https://nifa.aero) which includes states west of the continental divide. Region II is represented by the top 3 finishers in regional competition, SDC, San Jose State University, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott AZ).