May 14, 2013

Flying Salukis continue national prominence

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For a third consecutive year the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Flying Salukis are among the top three collegiate precision flight teams in the nation.

And for a second straight year, Courtney L. Copping earned top-scoring female competitor honors, while Taylor B. Breum captured the simulator ground trainer event to pace the team to a third-place finish Saturday, May 11, at the 2013 National Intercollegiate Flying Association championships at The Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, Ohio.

The Flying Salukis finished with 293 points, and earned the flight events championship with 220 points.  Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott captured a second straight national title with 359 points, edging out University of North Dakota with 355 points.  Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona was fourth with 226 points and Western Michigan University was fifth with 167 points.  Twenty-nine teams competed May 6-11.

“This was another great performance on the national stage by our students and coaches,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “The Flying Salukis perform at an extremely high level every year, and their commitment is an inspiration across our campus.”

Four Flying Salukis finished in the top 13 for the National Top Pilot Award, with Breum tied for fourth; Dane K. Fearneyhough seventh; Copping eighth, and Prescott R. Dean 13th.

“Performance-wise, we did an outstanding job,” said Nathan J. Lincoln, the Flying Salukis’ coach who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Aviation Management and Flight.  “The team came together in the last few weeks and was able to perform exceptionally well.”

Lincoln is proud of the program’s continuing legacy of consistency, which includes seven national titles.  Two third-place finishes follow the 2011 national title. Other recent national finishes include fourth-place in 2005 and 2010, and fifth-place in 2006 and 2008.

“To finish in the top three three years in a row shows the quality of the program, the quality of our students, and the quality of the instructional staff we have here at the University,” he said.  “I’m always proud of how our team does and we push them really hard during prep work for the competition.”

The top 20 scorers in each of the 11 events earned points toward the team score.  The Flying Salukis had at least one team member score in each of the events.

The seven ground events are computer accuracy, aircraft preflight inspection, simulator, aircraft recognition, simulated comprehensive area navigation (SCAN), crew resource management, and IFR (instrument flight rules) simulator.  The four flight events are power-off landing, short-field approach and landing, navigation and message drop.

Breum, a co-captain and graduating senior in aviation management, was the second top-scoring male contestant, scoring in eight of 11 events.  In addition to winning simulator ground trainer, which tests a contestant’s competency and skill in a flight training device, Breum was fourth in short field approach and landing, fifth in IFR (instrument flight rules) simulator, and 19th in both power-off landing and aircraft recognition.  Breum and Copping finished 13th in navigation ranking, with Breum as observer and Copping as pilot, and 20th in message drop with Breum as pilot and Copping as drop master.  Breum also teamed with Justin E. Lopez to finished third in crew resource management.  Breum is the son of Janet and Terry Breum of Lake Villa.

Breum finishes his collegiate career with three individual event national titles.

“He was definitely a workhorse this semester and really put in a lot of time and effort into each of the events he was competing in, and was able to perform well,” Lincoln said.

Copping, the daughter of Donna and Clarence Copping of St. Charles, continues a string of Flying Salukis who are top female pilot award winners dating back to 1999.  The Flying Salukis have earned the award six times in 15 years, including two-time winners Jenny Byrne (2005, 2006) and Copping. A senior with a degree in aviation management, Copping is working as intern at Cape Air and is flight instructor on campus.

Lincoln has known Copping since she attended an SIU aviation summer camp when she was 15 or 16 years old. To see her return as a student and watch her achievements is satisfying, Lincoln said.

“I’ve been extremely proud of everything she has been able to accomplish in these four years,” he said.  “It has been a joy to watch her perform at this level in the competitions.”\

Copping said she considers her accomplishments a result of the hard work the team expected of each member.  In addition to earning top female pilot in the national competition two years in a row, Copping was also top pilot in the Region VIII championships last fall – the first woman to earn top scoring contestant and top pilot honors in Region VIII history.

“My school has done so much for me that it’s great to be able to give back to my school,” she said.  “I feel the hard work is validated.”

She plans to continue as a flight instructor through this winter and hopes to begin a full-time position with Cape Air.  As a first officer, Copping flies from Marion to St. Louis a couple of days each week.

She also sees a bright future for the Flying Salukis.

“I feel like I’m leaving the team in good hands,” she said.  “There is a lot of talent there for the future.”

Lopez, a graduating senior in aviation management and co-captain, was seventh in computer accuracy and eighth in aircraft preflight recognition.  He is the son of Sandy Lopez of Kankakee.

Fearneyhough, a senior in aviation flight and management, was third in power-off landing and sixth in aircraft preflight inspection.  He is the son of Dee and Paul Fearneyhough of Louisville, Ky.

Dean was second in the nation in short field approach and landing.  A junior in aviation management, he is the son of Dana and Jerry Dean of Olathe, Kan.

Other Flying Salukis to earn points in the event were:

Robert W. Hutchinson, eighth in short field approach and landing.  A senior in aviation management, he is the son of Mary Lou and Robert Hutchinson of Johnsburg.

Kevin D. Grandberry was 15th in aircraft recognition.  He is a freshman in aviation flight from Chicago.

Kyle E. Hayes was 18th in simulated comprehensive area navigation (SCAN).  He is a senior in aviation flight.

In addition to the individual and team honors, a former Flying Saluki, Michael A. LeFevre, a part-time staff flight instructor, earned NIFA Coach of the Year honors.  Lincoln said LeFevre helps the team practice and is at the airport multiple nights a week preparing for the competition.  His recent experience as a Flying Saluki helps drive the team to perform well, Lincoln said.

Other Flying Saluki team members are: Stephanie J. Armstrong, a graduating senior in aviation management, the daughter of Christine and Jeffrey Armstrong of Marseilles; John M. Behnke, a junior in aviation management and flight, the son of Pamela and Michael Behnke of Arlington Heights; Skyler J. Droll, a senior in aviation flight from Carbondale; Emily K. Frasca, a sophomore in aviation flight, the daughter of Barb and Tom Frasca of Champaign; Michael T. Maughan, a senior in aviation flight, the son of Laurie and Tom Maughan of Pinckneyville; Joshua A. Sager, a sophomore in aviation flight, the son of Mary and Andrew Sager of Lincoln; Jacob R. Schwarz, a sophomore in aviation flight of Chesterfield, Mo., the son of Lisa Luna and Mark Schwarz, and Lauren K. Smith, a sophomore  in aviation flight.

The team will lose Breum, Copping, Lopez and Armstrong for next season, but Lincoln is confident.

“We are going to have some holes to fill but we’ve had that in the past and we will just have some extra work to make sure that next year’s team is ready to take those spots,” he said.

The other Flying Saluki assistant coaches are senior lecturer and faculty adviser Kim Carter, who is also an academic adviser, and assistant instructors Daniel S. Harrington, Samuel W. Oas, and James Libuszowski.

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

Courtney Copping

Courtney Copping

Taylor Breum

Taylor Breum