For the second year in a row, UNO's competitive flight team, the Flying Mavs, took home first place at the Region VI National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON) competition.
This year's event was hosted by Kansas State University Polytechnic, based in Salina, Kansas, from Saturday, Oct. 13, through Wednesday, Oct. 17.
With a total of 225 points, UNO outpaced the next highest finishers, Kansas State Polytechnic (150) and Oklahoma State University (135), by a significant margin. UNO also dominated, winning both the Flight Events Championship and Ground Events Championship.
As the first-place team, the Flying Mavs have earned a spot at the national SAFECON competition where, previously, they placed eighth among all university teams in the country - the team's highest finish in history. This will mark the 10th consecutive year UNO has made it to the national SAFECON contest.
"I am so proud of this team," said Scott Vlasek, lecturer for the Aviation Institute and faculty advisor for the Flying Mavs. "They faced some adversary at the start of the year and came though very strong. For the second year in a row to take the Flight, Ground, and SAFECON Championship events is a true testament to the dedication of the students on this team.
Leading the way individually for the Flying Mavs was captain and senior Tate Beller, who placed first among all contestants for the second consecutive year with 71 points and first among all pilots with 56 points. Collectively, Beller placed first or second in four competitions: Computer Accuracy, Navigation, Short Field Landing and Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation.
Also from UNO, Leighton Kaluza earned third place overall with 33 points; Brendan Simmons tied for fifth with 32 points; and Nicholas Scholz joined Nick Newstrom to earn an 11th-place tie. Altogether, UNO placed five students in the top 15.
Additional highlights include:
UNO earned five first-place finishes and included at least one student in the top five across eight of 10 contests, including several contests with multiple Flying Mavs in the top three spots.
In addition to Beller, UNO had three other Flying Mavs earn first-place finishes with Simmons earning first in the Ground Trainer category and Ian Kinslow joining Scholz in earning first in the team-focused Message Drop category. Scholz also joined Beller in first place for Navigation.
In the Message Drop category, the Flying Mavs claimed first, second, third, fifth and sixth place.
In addition to Beller and Scholz earning first in Navigation, Kaluza and Kinslow placed second with Simmons and Joel Heap earning fifth.
Following Beller as "Top Pilot" for the competition was Kaluza, who earned fourth, and Simmons, who tied for fifth.
The national SAFECON competition will take place from May 13-18 in Janesville, Wisconsin, hosted by the University of Wisconsin at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.
A full list of results from the Region VI SAFECON can be found online.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.