May 10, 2005

Flying Salukis finish fourth in national competition

by Pete Rosenbery


Jennifer L. Byrne

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Flying Salukis finished fourth in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's annual competition.

Twenty-nine teams from around the country participated in the Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference April 26-30 in Salina, Kan. Kansas State University hosted the competition. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Ariz., won the event, with defending champion University of North Dakota finishing second. Western Michigan University was third.

The top 20 scorers in each of 11 events earned points toward the team score.

Ground events are computer accuracy, aircraft preflight, simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation (SCAN), simulator, cockpit resource management, aircraft recognition, and IFR (instrument flight rules) simulator. Flight events are power-off landing, power-on landing, navigation and message drop.

The Flying Salukis were fourth overall in the seven ground events, behind Embry-Riddle, the University of North Dakota, and Western Michigan. The team was sixth overall in the four flight events.

This is the sixth time in eight years the Flying Salukis finished fourth in national competition, said coach Michael S. Frette, an assistant chief flight instructor in the Department of Aviation Management and Flight. Ten of 12 team members participating placed in the event.

The squad won the regional title in October to advance to the national competition for a 36th consecutive year.

"I was very impressed with the team," he said. "We lost a lot of people last year, so people had to step it up, and just about everybody did. It's unusual for 10 out of your 12 people to place."

Freshman Jennifer L. Byrne earned the distinction of top female pilot among 34 female competitors, and received the Candi Kubeck Award. Byrne served as navigator in the navigation and message drop events; she and pilot Douglas A. Gibbs were 12th in navigation and 13th in message drop.

This is the third time in six years that an SIUC student won the top female pilot award.

Byrne is the daughter of Darcy and Scott Byrne of Algonquin. She said she was excited and shocked to be named the top female pilot. Her father, Scott, is a pilot with American Airlines.

"I wasn't expecting to get that my freshman year," said Byrne, who began flying when she was16 and a junior at Jacobs High School in Algonquin. "It was fun, but it was very nerve-wracking being around schools that were prestigious in flying competitions."

Gibbs, a senior, the son of Margaret and David Gibbs of Princeville, was chosen outstanding team member by a vote of his teammates. Gibbs, with teammate Patrick T. Skonie, was 10th in cockpit resource management, ninth in aircraft recognition, and 18th in SCAN.

Three of SIUC's four teams competing in navigation placed in the top 20. The event consists of flying about 100 nautical miles in a three- to five-leg cross-country event. Competitors must determine times between each leg, and fuel consumption, and teams consist of a navigator and safety pilot.

William M. Gersch and Garrett E. Hackett placed eighth, and Timothy A. Cipolla and Jonathan D. Greene were 15th. Gersch, a junior, the son of Sandy and Bill Gersch of Algonquin, was also second in the simulator, sixth in computer accuracy and 12th in SCAN.

Hackett, a junior, the son of Pam and Chris Hackett of Algonquin, also placed eighth in power-off landing and 20th in aircraft preflight inspection.

Cipolla, a senior, was also 11th in computer accuracy and 16th in aircraft recognition. He is the son of Christine and Donald Cipolla of Hurricane, W. Va.

Greene, a senior, is the son of Karen and Mark Smetana of New Lenox.

Skonie, a senior, was also 17th in IFR simulator, and 18th in the ground trainer event. He is the son of Wendy Skonie of Aurora and Thomas Skonie of Naperville.

Matthew T. Clevenger, a graduate student in work force education, was fourth in SCAN and eighth in aircraft preflight inspection. He is the son of Merri Dahlgren and Mike Clevenger of Sterling.

Brandon E. Crowd, a sophomore, was 14th in aircraft recognition. He is the son of Sylvester and Deidra Tig-Crowd of Ontario, Calif.

William J. Strauthers, a junior, was 15th in aircraft recognition. He is the son of Maureen and Mike Lilleeng of Fox Lake and Jack Strauthers of Hamilton, Ohio.

Clevenger and Bryan T. Harrison, who also competed because they had eligibility remaining, also are visiting assistant instructors in the program. Harrison, also a graduate student in work force education, is the son of Lyle and Cathy Harrison of Rushville.

Department chair David A. NewMyer, visiting lecturer and academic advisor Kim Carter, and Frette each noted that SIUC finished second overall when competing for the Judge's Trophy, which includes scores of every team member. SIUC finished behind Embry-Riddle in that competition.

The event featured more than 400 competing students and more than 100 aircraft.

"The scoring shows the depth of the team, and how much the team was involved from top to bottom," NewMyer said. "It was a true team effort."

Other Flying Saluki team members are:

Jeremy A. Baiman, a sophomore, the son of Michelle and Ron Baiman of Oak Park; Eric P. Greener, a sophomore, the son of Gail and John Greener of Crystal Lake; Alex J. Kemps, a junior, the son of Jenny and John Kemps of Emmaus, Pa.; Eric T. Miller, a sophomore, the son of Elyece and Scott Miller of St. Charles; Ryan C. Warren, a junior, the son of Kris and Holland Warren of Princeville, and Sabrina J. Weber, a junior, the daughter of Debra Weber-Stokes of McHenry.

Shaping high-quality undergraduate programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.