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SLU's Flying Billikens Taking Off for 2024 National Intercollegiate Flying Competition

by Maggie Rotermund
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Maggie Rotermund
Senior Media Relations Specialist

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ST. LOUIS - A team of aviation science students from Saint Louis University’s School of Science and Engineering are heading to Janesville, Wisconsin this weekend for the 2024 National Intercollegiate Flying Association Competition.

SLU plane

Hudson Pettit, center, assists a Flying Billiken teammate as they land at St. Louis Downtown Airport during the Region VI SAFECON event on Oct. 19.  Photo by Maggie Rotermund. 

The Flying Billikens from SLU’s Oliver L. Parks Department of Aviation Science secured their national spot last fall in the Region VI SAFECON event hosted by SLU at the St. Louis Downtown Airport. The Flying Billikens ranked third overall in the October regional and took third in ground and flight events.

“It’s incredibly important for the team this year to have been rewarded with their invite to the national competition,” said coach Jack Schwarz. “This group put in an extraordinary effort to organize and plan the regional event we hosted in the fall and has continued to work hard to fundraise for the team’s future benefit. I’m thrilled that they’ll be able to carry the achievement of competing at the National SAFECON with them into their future careers.”

SLU will be one of 30 teams competing in various aviation exercises. The nearly 400 competitors will be challenged in navigation, short-field landing, power-off landing, message drop, ground training, aircraft recognition, computer accuracy, and instrument flight rule events. 

The Flying Billikens include Hudson Pettit, Sebastian Valenzuela, Darren Mushkin, Troy Ettenson, Harman Chauhan, Gavin Monthye, Timothy Pipal, Jongchan Park, Santino Sartoris, Woo Cheon Park, Raleigh Fisher and Bryce Waldron.

The team is coached by Schwarz, Andre Santa Maria and David Albright.

The National Intercollegiate Flying Association was formed to develop and advance aviation education; promote, encourage and foster aviation safety; promote and foster communications and cooperation between aviation students, educators, educational institutions and the aviation industry; and provide an arena for collegiate aviation competition.

The national competition will begin Monday, May 13, and run through Saturday, May 18.

About the School of Science and Engineering

Saint Louis University formed the School of Science and Engineering in 2022 to better meet the future needs of its students and faculty. The school brings together select departments from the College of Arts and Sciences — chemistry, computer science, earth and atmospheric sciences, and physics — with the former Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology. To learn more about the School of Science and Engineering, visit