SDCC Flight Team
Our mission is to build leaders to serve Christ through aviation.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
The SDCC Flight Team is based out of Gillespie Field in El Cajon, California. If you are interested in being a part of the Flight Team, or you would like to become a Support Group Member, please contact the Aviation Director, Denis Breslin for more information.
NIFA and SAFECON
The National Intercollegiate Flying Association has roots that embed deep into the United States aviation history. Prior to World War II, air meets were being held in the Ivy League circle under the National Intercollegiate Flying Club (NIFC). However when the nation went into the Great Depression, these air meets ceased to function. Following World War II, the aviation industry received an unprecedented amount of interest of people wanting to learn to fly. With this increased attention, the idea of bringing back a nationally recognized collegiate aviation organization came into view.
In 1948, Professor Troy Stimson of Texas Christian University (TCU) contacted the Civil Aeronautics Administration (the predecessor of the FAA) and numerous other collegiate schools with the sole purpose of revitalizing the collegiate flight competition. It was under these meetings that the National Intercollegiate Flying Association was born. Professor Stimson served as NIFA’s first executive director. The first air meet under the newly formed NIFA was held in May of 1949 at Texas Christian University.
Today NIFA is stronger then ever. There are over 70 collegiate schools that are involved each year. Each of these schools would have the opportunity of competing in their region’s Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON). There are eleven regions in the United States each configured geographically. From these eleven regional competitions, around thirty schools are invited to compete in the National SAFECON held in the spring of each academic year. It is at the National SAFECON that the National Champion Team is awarded the annual title, a much coveted prize among the competitors.
The Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON)
The regional and national SAFECONs are NIFA’s most important events held each year. The events held at both the regional and national SAFECON are very similar, however not exactly the same. Most of the regional SAFECONs are held in the fall, with some exceptions. The national SAFECON is always held in the spring, specifically between April 15 and June 1 as prescribed in the Rules and By-Laws of NIFA.
The NIFA rules for Intercollegiate SAFECONS and By-Laws of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, unofficially called the ‘red book’, detail out all rules and regulations for the SAFECON events. The red book is updated yearly by the executive council of NIFA. It outlines specifications of the aircraft to be used for competition down to the scoring system. It is important to have a current copy of the red book when planning a SAFECON, many of the rules will be referenced in this handbook.
The events at a SAFECON are categorized by either flight or ground events. At the National SAFECON there are six ground events and four flying events that are computed into deciding the National Champion Team. There are two other ground events and numerous other achievement awards as well. The following is brief description of each event:
Computer Accuracy Event The Computer Accuracy Event is a written examination comprised of approximately forty-five multiple choice questions based on problem solving using one or more types of manual flight computers.
Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation Event The SCAN event is a written exam with problems which reference a simulated cross-country flight over a given route. Included in the flight planning are questions on weight and balance, aircraft performance, FARs, aeronautical chart and weather interpretation, and fuel management.
Aircraft Recognition Event This event requires contestants to correctly identify aircraft from all over the world from both past a present. Slides of aircraft are shown for three seconds. Contestants need to identify the manufacturer, common name and model number of the aircraft.
Preflight Inspection Event The Aircraft Preflight Inspection Event is a practical inspection of a common training aircraft which has been “bugged” with multiple problems which would make the aircraft unsafe for flight. Contestants are given 15 minutes in which to inspect the aircraft and identify the problems.
Ground Trainer Event This event is designed to test the competency and skill of the contestants in using a flight training device. Flying a predetermined pattern, the computer most show a proficiency in altitude, heading and airspeed control.
IFR Simulator Event Competitors are required to demonstrate proficiency and precision by flying a given route in a flight training device. All aspects of cross-country IFR flight are included such as clearances, holding patterns, instrument approach procedures, and a deviation to an alternate airport.
Crew Resource Management-Line Orientated Flight Training Event Two person crews, a pilot flying and a pilot not flying, are assigned a cross-country flight in a flight training device. Contestants are judged on their ability to work together in a cockpit environment, as well as their ability to handle in-flight emergencies.
Message Drop Event The object of the Message Drop Event is to hit a target on the ground with a message container, dropped from an aircraft. A team effort by both the pilot and the drop-master is necessary to maneuver the airplane so the container will hit the target.
Navigation Event The Navigation Event consists of a cross-country flight over a three to five leg course between 70-120 nautical miles in length. Each contestant submits a flight plan before takeoff. The contestants are then evaluated by comparing the actual flight data with their estimated planned data. The contestant with the lowest penalty points wins.
Short Field Landing Event The objective of the Short Field Precision Landing Event is to test the pilot’s skill at maneuvering and manipulating the aircraft. After taking off and flying a normal traffic pattern, the pilot tries to land as close to, if not on, the target line. The contestants are evaluated on pattern technique and how close they land from the target line.
Power-off Landing Event Similar to the Short-Field Landing event, only the aircraft engine must be reduced to, and remain at, idle on the downwind leg abeam of the target line.
These events do not constitute team points for the national championship title.
Certified Flight Instructor Event Certified flight instructors take part in a teaching competition. The event starts with a CFI preparing and teaching a pre-determined subject. If weather and time permit, the CFI then teaches the lesson in flight.
Women and Men’ Achievement Male and female competitors are interviewed by a board that examines their academic accomplishments, community service, and aviation involvement.
Loening Trophy First awarded in 1929, the Loening Trophy is presented to the team who, during the last year, has displayed outstanding competition performance, air safety, and active participation in aviation in their local community. All member schools in good standing are eligible.