LETU Ranks Top Ten Nationally In Flying Competition - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/29/07-Longview

LETU Ranks Top Ten Nationally In Flying Competition

They now rank seventh in the nation, up there among top aeronautical science schools like Purdue University and Ohio State University. They are LeTourneau University's Precision Flight Team and they proved earlier this month that a small school from East Texas can fly with the big dogs.  

It's the world cup, the Indy 500, the Super Bowl of flying

"You've got 30 teams and they all get together and it's everything going at once," says LETU Junior Roger Braun.

The LeTourneau students soared through the National Intercollegiate Flying Competition, landing in at number seven out of 31 teams.  

"This is a huge deal, this is the first time ever in the top ten," says faculty sponsor Bradley Wooden.

"It's doing something that's so cool, it's flying airplanes," says LETU Senior Jeffrey Tenkink.

But the students don't just fly airplanes, they defy gravity, competing in four ground events and four flying events.

"Just pretty much anything to do with airplanes and aviation, just a competition to see who knows their stuff the best," says Jeffrey. 

One of the flying events is called the "message drop" where two students sit in the plane, one piloting, the other hanging out the side of the plane, and dropping a message box to the ground below.

It's an event that helped LETU Junior Emily Harrison get to number one.  She was the top scoring female contestant. 

"It feels good but it wasn't by my own doing, had a lot of support from my teammates," she says.

"She is really good at what she does, she's really great at the events that she does and it was incredible to have her come up first," says Wooden.

The team beat out schools like the Air Force Academy and the University of Illinois. 

"Those are schools with programs five or six times the size of ours so for our program to have done so well, we really thought was quite the accomplishment," Jeffrey adds.

But now, they have a new goal for next year--to beat 'em all. 

"Next year we're hoping for first place," says Emily.

 LeTourneau's Precision Flight Team made it to nationals earlier this month after winning first place at the regional competition back in October.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@ktlv.com

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