November 01, 2016

Flying Salukis again earn ticket to nationals

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Flying Salukis utilized depth to turn in another dominating performance for the team’s sixth straight National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region VIII title Saturday, Oct. 29. 

Senior Bradley C. Smith earned top pilot honors and six other Flying Salukis finished among the top 10 overall scorers as SIU won a ninth regional title in 10 years. The team won seven of nine events -- including placing the top five scorers in each of two events, and five scoring positions in two other events. The 355 points earned was the team’s highest in regional competition under the existing format, eclipsing a 349-point performance in 2014. 

The title qualifies the Flying Salukis for NIFA national competition for the 47th time in 48 years. Lewis University was second with 161 points, followed by Purdue University, 81 points, Quincy University, 32 points, and host Indiana State University, 31 points. 

The 2017 NIFA national competition is May 9-14 at The Ohio State University. The nine-time national champion Flying Salukis finished second last year, marking the sixth straight year the team has finished in the top three in the nation. The team won recent titles in 2011, 2014 and 2015. 

Results are available at

Jacob R. Schwarz, first-year Flying Salukis head coach, liked the squad’s effort. 

“I’m very proud of this team. The depth in scoring is what really got me,” said Schwarz, a flight instructor from Chesterfield, Mo., who was part of the 2014 and 2015 national title teams while a student, and was an assistant coach last year. “The team was never giving up and saying enough is enough. We put in a lot of work and I was on confident with this team.” 

The team’s next goal is also in focus, Schwarz said. He does not anticipate losing any team members for the national competition. 

“We came in second place last year and since then it’s been a burning desire that we want to win that title,” he said.

The Flying Salukis won both ground and flight event categories. 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 approach and landing, power-off precision landing, navigation, and message drop. 

In all, 13 of 19 Flying Salukis scored points. 

Smith, an aviation management and flight major from Dove Canyon, Calif., scored 54 points in five events. Other Flying Salukis to finish in the top 10, with finish, major and hometown, were: second, Teddy M. Keenan, senior, aviation management, Evanston; fourth, Greysen H. Harlow, junior, aviation management and flight, Monmouth; fifth, Sean S. Gipe, senior, aviation technologies; Media, Pa; sixth, Connor E. Schlottman, aviation management and flight, McDonough, Ga.; eighth, Dalton P. Thompson, junior, aviation management and flight, Geneva, and ninth, Robert A. Kay, sophomore, aviation management and flight, Plainfield. 

Smith scored in five events and won aircraft recognition and navigation. Harlow, who also scored in five events, won aircraft preflight inspection and computer accuracy. Thompson, who scored in five events, won SCAN, while Keenan won short field landing and Schlottman won power-off landing. 

Team members who also scored were Austin Alzapiedi, senior, aviation management and flight, Sterling, Mass., Jonathan H. Ezell, sophomore, aviation technologies, LaGrange Park; Dillon P. Keppel, sophomore, aviation management and flight, Wildwood, Mo., Trent Medernach, sophomore, aviation flight, Batavia; Zachary Rawlings, sophomore, aviation management and flight, Columbia; and Craig Schwandner, senior, aviation management and flight, Wentzville, Mo. 

Other team members with major and hometown are: Matthew Browning, freshman, aviation flight, Tyrone, Ga.; Angel Cochran, sophomore, aviation management and flight, Bloomington; Colin Heisler, freshman, aviation flight, Mount Prospect; Andrew Roadcap, sophomore, aviation management, Champaign; Kindra Windling, junior, aviation flight, Altamont, and Brody Wilson, sophomore, aviation management and flight, Elmhurst. 

The Flying Saluki assistant coaches are Gipe, assistant instructors Skyler Droll and Kevin Miller, and senior lecturer Kim Carter. 

More information on the university’s aviation programs is available at