Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Arizona, Golden Eagles brought home the team’s thirteenth championship in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (Safecon) during virtual competition among 28 colleges and universities.
The coronavirus pandemic prevented in-person competition during the annual event that gathers college aviators to demonstrate ground and flight events.
During previous competitions, teams have participated in message drops, power-off spot landings, and short-field approach and landing events—which were not on the agenda in 2021.
The university said that the pandemic posed the biggest challenge to the team by affecting practice schedules.
Head coach Shaun Sheppard said he was proud of the students’ perseverance and “the many obstacles that we had to overcome in the last 10 months.” He said they faced socially distanced meetings and practices, delays in regional competition, and an extended winter break. “There were numerous times where we didn’t know what was going to come” next.
The 2022 Safecon is scheduled to be an in-person event at Ohio State University in Columbus.