Collegiate pilots take to the sky in Durant

By: Allison Harris Email
By: Allison Harris Email

DURANT, OKLAHOMA -- This week in Durant, student pilots from eight universities in four states...

"Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma," Region 6 Safecon Competition President Amanda Steele said.

Taxied in their airplanes, put their propellers in motion and took their rivalry to the skies.

"We try to get a little competition going between schools," University of Oklahoma Coach Rob Meltzer said.

"There are nine events total," Steele said.

Events range from computer accuracy to aircraft recognition. We joined them as they were stretching out their tape measures for the message drop.

"Students will fly over and they'll drop little messages, message containers, and they aim for a certain spot on the runway," Steele said.

Whoever gets the closet to the container, wins.

Participants in this Region 6 Safecon competition say these events give them a chance to enhance their abilities and show off their skills.

"We learn more complex things about the different events that we compete in," SOSU Aviation senior Douglas Cobb said.

"We practice about three times a week at least and that entails flying practices and then also ground practices," University of Nebraska at Omaha Coach James Slabaugh said.

Slabaugh competed in almost every event as an undergrad.

"It's a little bit nerve-racking your first couple years. It's a little intimidating having people coming and watching you landing, but it's really good experience," Slabaugh said.

These events mean a lot to Eric Barton. This is his 45th competition to judge.

"I can name probably ten different states that I have friends from thanks to either judging or competing in these events," Barton said.

That camaraderie and competition is what it's all about.

"Getting this experience now is a good thing to prepare them for the future," Slabaugh said.


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