5 November 2018

Flight Team Wins Regional NIFA SAFECON Championship

SUNY Schenectady Flight Team members at Richmor Aviation

Front row (l. to r.): Keegan Enders, Benjamin Gunn, Nicholas Savaria, Brandon Moore, Sam Wallner, Rebecca Cronce, Anthony Frandino, Aaron Dostie
Middle row (l. to r.): Brandon Jones, Aejay Gonzales, Madison Bartkowiak, Sydney Army,  Sierra Meskoskey, Sydney Germadnik, Devin Lamm, Coach Sam Battige
Back row (l. to r.): Coach Mike Bush, Zachary Caronia, Advisor Barbara Jones, Wandel Perez, Betsy Feiden, Coach Andy DeFeo.

The SUNY Schenectady Flight Team took first place in the annual National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) Regional Safety Conference (SAFECON) held the weekend of October 27 at the Schenectady County Airport, making the SUNY Schenectady Flight Team Regional Champions. SUNY Schenectady competed against teams from Bridgewater State University, RPI, and Delaware State University. Events included the Power Off and Power On Landings, Navigation Flight events, Ground Trainer, Preflight, Computer Accuracy, and Aircraft Identification events. There were a total of four colleges, 10 aircraft and 52 competitors.

“This has been an amazing team,” said Barbara Jones, Associate Professor and Aviation Liaison. “The participation of each and every one of them made this phenomenal accomplishment possible.”

Photo of three planes at NIFA SAFECON competitionBrandon Moore is a second-year Aviation Science student and Captain of the team. He competed in the Power Off Landing event which he explained demonstrates a pilot’s ability to control air speed and manipulate surfaces to create an accurate landing. “We put in so much work and everyone came together and did what needed to be done,” he said. “It was truly a team effort.” Through SUNY Schenectady, Brandon earned his private pilot’s license and instrument rating and is working on his commercial license. (Competition photo by Flight Team member Sierra Meskoskey. More photos.)

Wandel Perez, who has been interested in flying since he was a child, earned second place in the top pilot category. “It’s a team competition so I was happy that the team was able to place first, especially given that we were heavy underdogs in this competition,” he said. 

Rebecca Cronce comes from a family of aviators. She competed in the Power On Landing and Ground Trainer events. As a child, her father brought her to nearby Stratton Air National Guard base where he was an electrician. After her father’s friend took her on a short flight at age 11, she decided aviation was in her blood also. “That was it. I knew aviation was the only thing I wanted to do,” she said. She is looking forward to the national competition. “I still can’t believe that we made it to nationals,” she said. “There are no words.”

The team will now be invited to attend the National Competition being held in Madison, Wisc., in May 2019.

Watch the video of the competition created by Flight Team member Aejay Gonzales.

Results, highlighting SUNY Schenectady Flight Team Members

Flight Event Champions
  • SUNY Schenectady – 395 points
  • Bridgewater – 243 points
  • RPI – 211 points
  • Delaware – 187 points
Regional Champions
  • SUNY Schenectady – 602 points
  • Bridgewater – 501 points
  • RPI – 473 points
  • Delaware - 408 points
Top Pilots
  • Second Place – Wandel Perez
  • Third Place – Devin Lamm
  • Fourth Place – Aaron Dostie
  • Fifth Place – Tony Frandino
  • First Place – Wandel Perez
  • Fifth Place – Betsy Feiden
Power Off Landing
  • Second Place – Wandel Perez
  • Third Place – Devin Lamm
  • Fourth Place – Aaron Dostie
  • Fifth Place – Tony Frandino
Computer Accuracy
  • First Place – Zachary Turnbull
Ground Trainer
  • Third Place – Aaron Dostie
  • Fifth Place – Rebecca Cronce
Power on Landing
  • First Place – Aaron Dostie
  • Second Place – Brandon Moore

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