The War Eagle Flying Team is soaring to its fourth-consecutive national championship appearance.
Last year, the team placed second in the national championship, its best finish in 36 years, and the team hopes to top that this. year.
“We went into our regional competition in Jacksonville, Florida, feeling really confident in where we stood as a team,” said Adam Shaffer, president of the team. “We really put stuff together and did really well at regionals. The top three finishers from each regional competition qualified for nationals, and we came within 100 points from first place at regionals.”
Shaffer, senior in professional flight management, has been a part of the flight team since he was a freshman. He has gone to nationals with the flight team for all four years and looks forward to their upcoming competition.
The War Eagle Flying Team is one of the only completely student-led flight teams in the nation, and Shaffer believes it gives them an advantage in the competition.
“I see it as a luxury to be completely student run because what we put in is what we get out,” he said. “For the past four years, we have finished in the top 15 in the nation, so to be able to put these results together while being completely student led, not having any paid advisor to herd the sheep is a testament to our team to be able to put everything together.”
Nationals will be held over the course of 10 days, and the team will fly to Madison, Wisconsin, on May 9. They plan to practice until Monday, which is the opening day. The team will compete on different days throughout the week, and the closing ceremony will be on May 18.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
The flight team will compete in similar events at nationals as they did in regionals a couple of months ago. There are two main events: flying and ground.
Flying events include precision landings, which are also called power-on and power-off landings, message drops and navigation.
The ground events include working through flight computer tests, aircraft recognition and simulations.
“Our biggest goal on the War Eagle Flying Team is to refine our skills as pilots,” said Justin Locke, junior in professional flight.
Locke joined the flying team last fall and has been a member ever since.
“I joined because it looked like a really fun opportunity, taking additional flying knowledge as well as flight hours,” he said. “Also, it looked like a good opportunity to find a friend group.”
Overall, the flying team is excited about nationals coming up and is confident in its chances.
“It’s really exciting,” Locke said. “The team this year has really done an astonishing job, especially considering the history of the team, and it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Shaffer believes the team has created strong bonds throughout the year, practicing and competing together.
“It’s been a fantastic year,” Shaffer said. “We have a fantastic team. We have bonded together really well and we are all looking forward to it. I really enjoy the camaraderie and the family-like environment that we have, and we always make everlasting memories as a team.”
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman