Indiana State University Newsroom

National aviation competition flies into Terre Haute

May 13, 2010

Aviation students and professionals from throughout the nation will converge in Terre Haute next week as Indiana State University hosts the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's national competition.

The National Intercollegiate Flying Association is a professional organization that works to enhance and improve aviation education in the United States by promoting intercollegiate flight competitions and bringing together aviation students and industry professionals.

This national SAFECON competition, organized by ISU aviation technology students, is expected to draw as many as 700 people.

Throughout the week, teams from 28 colleges and universities with approximately 85 aircraft are expected to participate in activities at Terre Haute International Airport, said ISU aviation technology instructor Vern Bothwell.

Top teams that have garnered first- or second-place finishes to advance from regional competitions will demonstrate their landing, flight, navigation and simulation skills. Schools and individuals will earn awards for their safety, flight and coaching abilities.

The ISU team is being led by student captains Jessica Campbell, a senior from Grandview who was judged best female pilot at the regional competition in October, and Jeff Gardner, a junior from Fishers who excelled in the region's ground training and navigation events. Additionally, Bothwell won the coach of the year at the regional competition in Romeoville, Ill.

While this national event officially takes off Monday, the competition begins in earnest on Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Terre Haute International Airport's Hulman Field.

Ground events will test computer accuracy, aircraft preflight inspection, simulator ground training, aircraft recognition and simulated comprehensive area navigation. The student's flight skills will be tested through short field landings, power-off precision landings, navigation and message drop.

Bothwell, who is working as a faculty advisor for the event, said ISU is thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved with the national SAFECON competition.

"Hundreds of people are coming together to make this thing happen, and we're very excited to be hosting it in Terre Haute," Bothwell said.

While the event is primarily a test of skill with limited visual appeal, he said the public is invited to observe events throughout the week.

"But it's not an air show," Bothwell said. "If people come expecting that sort of spectacle, they'll be disappointed."

This is the first of two national events to be hosted by Indiana State's aviation technology department. Indiana State will host the 2011 University Aviation Association fall conference in Indianapolis.

Writer and contact: Rachel Wedding McClelland, assistant director of Media Relations, ISU Communications and Marketing at 812-237-3790 or