October 27, 2014

SIU to host intercollegiate flying competition

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s defending national champion Flying Salukis will look to win their seventh regional title in eight years this week when they host the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Region VIII competition. 

Events begin Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the Transportation Education Center and Southern Illinois Airport. The awards banquet is at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1, in the Transportation Education Center. 

Participating schools are SIU Carbondale, Indiana State University, Lewis University, Purdue University and Quincy University. Additional information on the Region VIII competition is available at aviation.siu.edu/flight/nifa/index.php.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the event. For more information, contact competition coordinator Bryan T. Harrison, an assistant professor in aviation management and flight, at bharrison@aviation.siu.edu or 618/453-9240. For information on the Flying Salukis, contact coach James Libuszowski, assistant instructor, at jlibuszowski@siu.edu or 618-453-0282.

The eight-time national champion Flying Salukis are looking to return to national competition for the 45th time in 46 years. SIU also hosted the regional event in 1997, 2002 and 2008. 

Ground events are computer accuracy, aircraft preflight inspection, simulator ground trainer, aircraft recognition and SCAN, or simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation. Flight events, weather permitting, are short field approach and landing, power-off precision landing, navigation, and message drop. 

First-year coach James Libuszowski takes over for Nathan J. Lincoln, a senior lecturer in aviation management and flight, whose teams won two national titles and finished no lower than fifth in the nation in eight appearances dating back to 2005.  Libuszowski, an assistant instructor, was an assistant coach the past two years and said he has tried to keep the coaching transition as smooth as possible. Those two years, Libuszowski said, were “invaluable” in learning Lincoln’s methods and strategies for forming the team. 

“We've been trying to operate on the exact same regimen as before Nate stepped down,” Libuszowski said. “Nate's strategies have worked for a long time and I intend to keep that streak going. I have also tried to keep the same level of drive going for the team. The returning members still remember Nate's expectations for performance during practice and competition and that helps instill that same drive to win amongst the new members.” 

Senior co-captains Jacob Schwarz and John Behnke, both aviation management majors, lead this year’s 18-member squad. The assistant coaches are assistant instructors Michael LeFevre and Stephanie Armstrong and senior lecturer Kim Carter. 

The teams will feature 70 student competitors and 15 airplanes. The top three teams receive berths to NIFA’s national competition, May 11-16, at The Ohio State University Airport.