Academy Flying Team competes in national competition

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  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

The Air Force Academy Flying Team competed in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association national competition in May in Columbus, Ohio.


The competition featured former cadets who graduated from the Academy June 2 and who are now second lieutenants: Jonathan Hart, Brett Meyer, Garrett Ellis, Staci Colbacchini and Max Umland.


Hart and Ellis led the 26 cadets competing in several events.


Overall, the Academy team took 10th place, with Ellis grabbing the Region 1 Top Pilot and Outstanding Team Member awards. Ellis took third place in the Men’s Achievement event and Colbacchini took second place in the Women’s Achievement event. The men and women’s’ achievement event recognizes top collegiate pilots for achieving significant aviation, academic and community support goals.


Cadets 1st Class Chris Beck and Cadet 2nd Class Thomas Foster finished sixth in the crew resource management simulator event. Beck placed seventh in the simulated instrument flight event and 11th in the ground trainer simulator event.


Cadets 1st Class Paul Mueller and Wes Foudriat finished 10th in the message drop event; Beck and  Meyer finished 13th in the navigation event; and Cadet 2nd Class Connor Brown finished 14th, and Umland finished 18th in computer accuracy.


“Our cadets utilize the Academy’s Airmanship Programs to fine-tune their aviation skill sets and overcome unique challenges," said Capt. Shane Malkin, the Academy Flying Team flight commander.


“At the airfield, our competitive teams provide cadets additional opportunities to develop their leadership skills,” he said. “Our goal is to expose cadets to airmanship early, either during basic cadet training or during their freshman year.”


Academy cadets are enrolled over four years in a variety of Airmanship courses ranging from learning basic flying skills to instructing others. More than half of the cadets here enroll in a soaring course during their junior year and learn to learn to pilot a glider. Others take a freefall parachuting course and earn their Air Force parachute wings after five freefall parachute jumps. Cadets may also take a powered-flight course during their senior year and learn to fly a propeller-driven aircraft.


"I’m extremely proud of the hard work and effort the cadets on the flying Team committed in their pursuit of excellence,” Malken said.