VIDEO: Flight Team Earns the ‘Stanley Cup’ of Aviation

Brent Sumner, Tempo Editor, and Shelby Ray, Hanna Frank Contributors

The Lewis University Department of Aviation and Transportation Studies was presented with the prestigious Loening Trophy at a ceremony on Sept. 26, at the Harold E. White Building maintenance hangar.

William Brogan, department chair and associate professor of aviation and transportation welcomed those in attendance, while Megan Zahos, head coach of the flight team, and Br. James Gaffney, FSC, gave congratulatory speeches to the department.

“Lewis is where aviation and aeronautics were the foundational academic programs and today, is still one of the five, six or seven largest programs on campus,” Br. James said. “Our commitment to the future of aviation and our emphasis on academics, community involvement, aviation skills, a comprehensive safety program and professionalism were key reasons for this award.”

The Loening Trophy was first awarded to Harvard University in 1929 by Dr. Grover Loening, the first aeronautical engineer for the Wright Brothers. The trophy is presented annually to the most outstanding all-around collegiate aviation program in the nation. The Lewis University Flight Team was presented with the award in May when they took eighth place overall at the Intercollegiate Flying Association Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (SAFECON).

Over the years, the Flight Team has won many awards dating back to the 1920s, but this is Lewis’ first time receiving the Loening trophy. Each year, a plaque with the winning university’s name and year they won is placed on the trophy.

“We never won it before, so it’s kind of neat to see our name on it for the first time,” Zahos said.
The three team members who received the award on behalf of the team were Andrew Baniecki, Kayan Todiwalla and Erik Rasmussen.

“That Saturday night when we were at our banquet, when they announced the winners of the Loening Trophy, the sounds anyone could hear were joy, excitement and celebration,” Baniecki said. “Those sounds came from our flight team. We were thrilled. The trophy is one of the oldest and rarest in aviation, and it was a huge milestone for our team and the university.”

The award not only represents achievements in aeronautical skills, but also emphasizes academics, community involvement, aviations skills and advancements, safety programs and professionalism. At the annual SAFECON competition, each school is able to choose to compete in a qualifying procedure. The team is then responsible for developing a presentation that is capable of showing off the qualifying criteria they are supposed to meet.

“Each of these individuals organized and planned all sorts of events and activities throughout the course of the 2012-2013 school year, all aimed at demonstrating what a great university Lewis is,” Zahos said. “They then prepared and presented that information at competition in a panel style interview at Ohio State International SAFECON.”

To wrap up the ceremonies, people in attendance heard speeches from Peter Bro, chief judge of the Loening trophy; Bob Clement, Loening trophy judge and captain at FedEx; and Trine Jorgensen, trophy judge and Delta Airlines pilot.

“[The Loening Trophy] remains the most prestigious trophy in collegiate aviation,” Bro said. “If you were looking for an equivalent, I would make it equivalent to the Lombardi Trophy or the Stanley Cup. It is a team trophy, awarded to a team, not an individual. You saw the team today.”

Brent Sumner

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