October 27, 2009

Flying Salukis capture regional ‘three-peat’

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Flying Salukis earned its own “three-peat” Saturday, Oct. 24, by capturing a third straight regional title at Lewis University in Romeoville.

The Flying Salukis finished first in five of nine events and utilized balanced scoring to easily win the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region VIII championships, Oct. 20-24. The victory marks the first time dating back to at least 1980 that a school captured three consecutive regional championships.

SIUC finished first in both ground and flight events. The Flying Salukis finished with 227 points, nearly 100 points ahead of host Lewis University with 133 points. The University of Illinois finished third with 101 points, followed by Purdue University, 92, Indiana State, 63, and Middle Tennessee State University, 44.

The victory is also the 40th time in 41 years that the Flying Salukis qualify for NIFA’s national competition. The Flying Salukis have six NIFA national titles -- the last in 1984. The team’s recent history includes a fifth-place finish in May, fourth in 2005 and fifth in 2006.

The top three teams in the region receive automatic berths to NIFA’s national competition, May 17-22. Indiana State University will host the event at Hulman Field in Terre Haute, Ind.

Coach Nathan J. Lincoln was pleased with the team’s performance.

“This is another great group of kids. They all worked well together,” he said. “The senior members help the junior members. That’s what we strive for; for them to rely on each other and help each other out.

“I was really pushing the team to get our own three-peat,” he said.

Lincoln, a senior lecturer in the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, competed two years for the Flying Salukis, earning his bachelor’s degree in aviation management in 2000.

Current Flying Salukis recognize and know the team’s legacy, Lincoln said.

“We talk about it. Every one of our coaches talk about the days that we were on the team and the efforts of everyone who has been on teams who competed,” he said.

Nine events comprise the competition. Ground events are computer accuracy, aircraft preflight inspection, simulator ground trainer, aircraft recognition and SCAN, or simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation. Flight events are short field landings, power-off precision landings, navigation and message drop.

The Flying Salukis earned 112 points in flight events, and 115 points in ground events. All five Flying Saluki entrants finished in the top five in computer accuracy. In all, 14 of 15 team members competing scored in the regional.

In last year’s Region VIII competition at Southern Illinois Airport, five Flying Salukis finished in the top six in the computer accuracy competition. The same returning members took the top five spots this year -- which featured three perfect scores.

“They really helped each other out and practiced really hard to take those top five spots,” Lincoln said.

David A. NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, said it was quite an accomplishment to see the 18-member squad return again with a regional title. He’s watched their practices at Southern Illinois Airport since the start of the semester.

“Too see it all pay off is great,” he said. “It is fulfilling to be there and watch students recognized.”

The team’s continuing legacy, now in its fourth decade, is something that team members realize, he said. A key component for SIUC is consistency among its coaches. Lincoln, and Kim Carter, have been with the program since the 1990s. The current assistant coaches are also former team members, NewMyer said.

“That is one of the advantages the Flying Salukis have over other teams in the region,” he said. “We have a consistency of coaching that has been second-to-none in the Midwest.”

That consistency helps by instructors knowing what students need to work on in practice to score well in competition, NewMyer said.

Co-captain Michael A. LeFevre, a junior in aviation management and flight from Ashton, scored in four events en route to earning top-scoring male honors with 44 points. He led eight Flying Salukis who scored among the top 17 competitors.

LeFevre piloted the aircraft with Jordan J. Miller as navigator to finish second in navigation. LeFevre teamed as drop master with Michael C. Laurishke as pilot to finish sixth in message drop. LeFevre also finished fifth in power-off landing, and second in computer accuracy. LeFevre is the son of Stacy and Mark LeFevre.

Laurishke finished first in computer accuracy and sixth in SCAN. Laurishke is a junior in aviation flight. He is the son of Yola and Laurishke of Lake in the Hills.

Miller also finished third in power-off landing and third in aircraft pre-flight inspection. A senior in aviation management and flight, Miller is the son of Jill and Dennis Miller of Sandwich.

Justin P. McCollum, a senior in aviation management and flight, finished first in two events. McCollum piloted the aircraft with co-captain Mike A. Carroll (navigator) to win navigation. McCollum also won SCAN, and teamed with Carroll (drop master) to finish fourth in message drop. McCollum is the son of Kelly and Gary McCollum of Morton.

Carroll scored in six events. In addition to navigation and message drop, Carroll finished third in SCAN, fifth in aircraft recognition, seventh in simulator ground trainer, and ninth in short field landings. Carroll, a junior in aviation management and flight, is the son of Karen and James Carroll of Normal.

Marc L. Chyba, a senior in aviation management, finished first in two events. He finished first in aircraft recognition, and as drop master, teamed with Anthony C. Nelson (pilot) to win message drop. Chyba is the son of Lawrence and Mary Lynn Chyba of Chicago.

Nelson, a junior in aviation management and flight, is the son of Mary Jean and Rick Nelson of North Richland Hills, Texas.

Ryan E. Buttney placed in three events. As drop master, he teamed with Shannon W. Roth (pilot) to finish seventh in message drop. Buttney also finished third in short field landing, and fifth in computer accuracy. A sophomore in aviation management and flight, Buttney is the son of Catherine and John Buttney of Lemont.

Roth is a senior in aviation management and flight. She is the daughter of J. Kevin Roth of Carbondale, formerly of Springfield.

Daniel S. Harrington was third in computer accuracy and fourth in SCAN. A sophomore in aviation flight and management, Harrington is the son of Nancy Curry of Monee.

Ryan C. Veldman, a sophomore in aviation management and flight, was fourth in computer accuracy. Veldman is the son of Dina Veldman of Lexington, Ky.

Taylor M. Breum, a freshman in aviation flight, finished fourth in ground trainer. He is the son of Janet and Terry Breum of Lake Villa.

Skylar J. Venema, a senior in aviation technologies from Westmont, was fifth in aircraft preflight inspection.

Ken W. Nielson, a senior in aviation management and mechanical engineering, finished seventh in aircraft recognition. Nielson is the son of Jayne Nielson of Belvidere and Douglas Nielson of East Troy, Wis.

Other Flying Saluki team members for the 2009 fall semester are:

Scott A. Blair, a sophomore in aviation flight, the son of Lana and Bryon Blair of Bloomington; David T. Brown, a junior in aviation management and flight, the son of Marlene and Scott Brown of Chicago; Courtney L. Copping, a freshman in aviation management, the daughter of Donna and Clarence Copping of Saint Charles; and Samuel W. Oas, a sophomore in aviation flight, the son of Lynda and William Oas of Villa Park.

Lincoln was pleased with the team’s balanced scoring.

“In previous years you might have one or two team members do really well. There was a lot of consistency among all team members, which is nice to see,” he said.

The team will lose “two quality team members” in McCollum and Venema prior to the national competition.

“The main thing we have to do is train the replacements. We will be mentoring new people into those positions,” Lincoln said.

The three programs comprising the University’s aviation program -- aviation flight, aviation management and aviation technologies -- are in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Assistant coaches are senior lecturer Bryan T. Harrison, assistant instructors Jeffrey D. Jaynes and Sabrina J. Zwego, and Kim Carter, a senior lecturer and academic adviser.