May 31, 2013

Flying Saluki joins NIFA national council

by Pete Rosenbery

Robert Hutchinson

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For the second time in three years, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Flying Salukis will contribute to collegiate aviation on a national level.

Robert W. Hutchinson, a senior in aviation management from Johnsburg, is the student representative to the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s 20-member national council.  Hutchinson was selected in a vote by competing schools during the 2013 NIFA championships, May 6-11, at The Ohio State University.

“I’m honored to be the national student representative of NIFA and excited to represent my peers in the aviation program as well as SIU,” Hutchinson said.  “Until now, my experiences on the flight team have been focused as a student competitor, but this position will hopefully expose me to the business side of NIFA.  I look forward to learning and offering input where I can.”

Hutchinson’s term is from July 1 to June 30, 2014.  He is the son of Mary Lou and Robert Hutchinson; a brother, Alex, is a junior studying business and marketing at SIU Carbondale.

Hutchinson was eighth in the nation in short field approach and landing among 144 student pilots from 29 teams who competed in national championship.  The Flying Salukis finished third overall and won the flight events championship, marking the third consecutive year the team finished among the top three in the nation.  The Flying Salukis won the 2011 national title and finished third in 2012.

Hutchinson follows former Flying Saluki and individual event titlist Daniel S. Harrington as a board member.  Harrington served on the 2011-2012 board, starting less than two months after the Flying Salukis earned their eighth national title in school history.  Hutchinson and teammate Dane K. Fearneyhough will be the Flying Salukis co-captains for the upcoming season. 

Hutchinson will earn his degree in August but will continue to take classes and hopes to also serve as a flight instructor with the program.  He then wants to become a military officer and earn a flight slot.

Nathan J. Lincoln, the Flying Salukis’ coach and a senior lecturer in the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, said Hutchinson will be an “excellent addition” to the NIFA organization.

“He has a real desire to learn how NIFA operates and commitment to see it grow,” Lincoln said.  “As a student representative he will be an important part of the operation to make sure that NIFA has the students’ interest in mind when making policies.  He brings a level of knowledge that will be beneficial to NIFA.”

As a student member on the board, Hutchinson will provide key, student-focused input to the overall board, which is comprised largely of faculty and staff of member institutions from each of the NIFA regions, said David A. NewMyer, department chair.

“Since Bob is a very serious person who is very focused on the aviation field, I believe he is an outstanding fit for the NIFA Board and will be an outstanding student member,” NewMyer said.

Hutchinson’s selection following so closely to Harrington’s service on the board shows the respect the program has among competing aviation institutions and their students, NewMyer said.