LETU pilots score big at national aviation competition

LETU pilots score big at national aviation competition

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - LeTourneau University in Longview may not have a football team, but their Precision Flight Team is scoring big at the national level. They finished in fourth place against 29 universities, and the 13-member team had the highest ranking in LeTourneau’s history.

The Precision Flight Team, calling themselves “Sting," lived up to their name at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association SAFECON competition held in Wisconsin the week of May 13. Chief Flight Instructor Jared Lease is one proud coach.

“They’re just a cut above at competition. I get reports all the time about them; ‘your guys are great. They’re friendly. They’re not arrogant. they’re disciplined; they’re where they need to be. They take care of each other,’” Lease said.

LeTourneau University’s “Sting” Precision Flight Team finished 4th place overall in the nation at the National Intercollegiate Flying Associations SAFECON 2019 flight competition.
LeTourneau University’s “Sting” Precision Flight Team finished 4th place overall in the nation at the National Intercollegiate Flying Associations SAFECON 2019 flight competition.

I think he coaches them to that point without yelling.

Noah Bronner was in a couple of competitions.

“The navigation event, and I have a partner in that. The other event is a pre-flight inspection event,” Bronner said.

In that one, judges mess up the plane.

“It’s pretty extensive, too. You have 15 minutes to find as many as you can; as many discrepancies,” Bronner revealed.

Teammate Erica Swenson said it wasn’t easy and on top of that, “Conditions were tough.”

"We had some tough weather days. Winds were crazy on landings so that made some of those competitions really difficult,” Swenson explained.

The week-long competition has many events dealing with all things aircraft, from pre-flight checks to navigation to landings to flight simulators according to Jonathan Rurup.

“A lot of my events didn’t go as well, I didn’t feel, as they ended up going, so I was pleasantly surprised personally. Overall for the team, I felt I was kind of expecting that kind of finish,” Rurup said.

Fourth place didn’t come as a result of luck.

“Fellow competitors from other schools will come and gather at our table just because they are kind of attracted to us. They want to be part of what we’re doing,” Lease said.

“It just brings tears to my eyes to think that their hard work has paid off,” Lease added.

It was from hard work, so give them props.

LeTourneau actually beat the United States Air Force Academy team, which came in fifth place. LeTourneau has finished in the top ten five times, and they’re shooting for third place next year.

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