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2011.10.14 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

UNO’s Aviation Institute to Host Regional Flight Competition

Omaha - For the first time in the school’s history, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Aviation Institute will host the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Region VI flight competition Oct. 17-21, 2011. The competition pits over 80 college students from eight Midwest regional teams in various events to test the aviation knowledge and flying prowess of aspiring student pilots. The competition is formally known as the NIFA Region VI Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON).

Over 20 single-engine planes will be flown into the Omaha area by the students for nine different events. The events begin on Monday, Oct. 17, and runs through Friday, Oct. 21.

NIFA is a collaboration of several universities who promote aviation education and safety. SAFECON is a competition that NIFA created to bring colleges together and compete against one another in several, aviation-related, events. The regional competition serves as the qualifier for SAFECON 2012, the national competition held in Salina, Kan., in May of 2012.

Some highlights of the competition include both flying events, held at the Council Bluffs Municipal Airport in Council Bluffs, IA, and ground-based knowledge tests, held on the campus of UNO. The flying events include spot landing competitions, navigation challenge, and a “message drop” in which a student pilot must attempt to hit a target on the ground with an object dropped from the airplane. The ground events include several pre-flight navigation planning events, as well as an aircraft recognition event.

The four teams with the best collective scores will qualify for the national competition.

"The Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is very proud to host the NIFA Region VI flight competition. Over 80 students from eight different schools in the Midwest will fly into our area to compete in both ground and flight events," UNO's Aviation Institute's Interim Director Scott Vlasek said. "As the host, we are excited to welcome these students and their faculty advisors to UNO, Omaha and surrounding areas. We all look forward to seeing these students excel in this competition."

The week’s events conclude on Friday with an awards banquette at the Strategic Air & Space Museum. The keynote speaker Kirby Chambliss, a Red Bull sponsored pilot, will speak at 6:30 p.m. and the competition’s awards presentation will follow at 7:15 p.m.

Of the eight teams in Region VI, only four will qualify to compete in the national completion in Salina, Kan., in the spring. The teams include University of Nebraska at Omaha, Oklahoma State University, Kansas State University, University of Oklahoma, Spartan College of Aeronautics, St. Louis University Parks College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Vlasek said the UNO Aviation Institute students are "heavily involved" in the organization and planning of the competition. The students are being led by Zachary Ossino, UNO’s NIFA Student President and a past NIFA Region VI competitor.

"A competition like this requires complete mastery of the skills students have learned in the classroom and in the air," Ossino said. "I have competed four times at the regional level and twice nationally. Planning the regional competition has given me the opportunity to design an event in which competitors will enjoy themselves and experience our UNO campus and the cities of Omaha and Council Bluffs."

Any media interested in coming to the Council Bluffs airport to observe the flight competition and meet the student pilots, please contact Scott Vlasek at (402) 203.9602 or svlasek@unomaha.edu

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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