Flying Salukis

Working on landings – Colin Heisler, a senior in aviation technologies, and Flying Salukis co-captain, practices last week ahead of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region VIII competition hosted by SIU. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

October 28, 2019

Flying Salukis host regional intercollegiate championships

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Flying Salukis will look to win a ninth straight regional title beginning Tuesday when the team hosts the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Region VIII competition.

The competition will be at the Transportation Education Center and Southern Illinois Airport.

Participating schools are SIU Carbondale, Lewis University and Purdue University. The top two teams from the regional will qualify for nationals, which are May 18-23 Oshkosh, Wisconsin at Wittman Regional Airport. The national finals will be during the Experimental Aircraft Association event and part of a celebration of 100 years of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA).

Tradition-rich history

The Flying Salukis’ history includes nine NIFA titles dating back to 1977. Since 2011, when the Flying Salukis surprised many competitors by winning a then-seventh national championship, the team has nine straight top 3 national finishes. That includes championships in 2014 and 2015 and second-place showings in 2016 and again in May.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the event. For more information, contact competition coordinator Bryan T. Harrison, an associate professor in aviation management and flight, at or 618/453-9240. For information on the Flying Salukis, contact coach Nathan J. Lincoln, senior lecturer, at or 618-453-9250.

Fifth time hosting regionals

This will be the fifth time SIU hosts the regional competition as the Flying Salukis look to return to the nationals for the 50th time in 51 years. SIU also hosted the regional event in 1997, 2002, 2008 and 2014.

Nathan J. Lincoln, a senior lecturer in the aviation management and flight degree program, coached the team to two of its national titles. This year’s team is young, with 11 of its 20 members competing for the first time.

“We have a very young team that is putting in a lot of hours trying to get where they need to be for the competition,” he said. “It’s good to have the youth for the future of the team, but at the same time, it gives you concern because you don’t have the experience that you are normally used to going into competition.”

Hard work will be pivotal

Lincoln said the key is the drive of individual team members to “become the best they possibly can in the events that they are competing in.”

Preparing for regionals when you are the host can be more difficult because of distractions, Lincoln said.

“I find more difficult than going somewhere else because I can’t get team members away from distractions,” he said. “When we leave and are away from all of the distractions of classes and roommates and all of that it makes it a lot easier to be able to prepare.”

Ground events begin Tuesday; flight events on Wednesday

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.

Andrew Finer, a senior in aviation technologies and Colin Heisler, a senior in aviation management, are co-captains. The assistant coaches are assistant instructors Michael LeFevre, Robert Kay and Andrew Roadcap.

The teams will feature 50 student competitors and 15 airplanes from the three schools.

Awards banquet is Saturday

The awards banquet is at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 2 in the university’s Transportation Education Center. Banquet tickets are $30 per person and can be obtained by contacting Bryan T. Harrison, an associate professor in aviation management and flight, at or 618/453-9240.

Flying Salukis

Touch down --Michael Ochsenbauer, a sophomore in aviation flight, works on power-off landings ahead of the Region VIII competition at Southern Illinois Airport. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

Flying Salukis

Lined up and waiting – The Flying Salukis will look for a ninth straight Region VIII title when they host the regional competition this week at Southern Illinois Airport. The top two teams advance to the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championships in May in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. (Photo by Russell Bailey)