By Cliff Foster
Metro State is preparing for the formal presentation next Monday, Jan. 30, of the prestigious Loening Trophy to the Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science, an award recognizing the outstanding all-around collegiate aviation program in the country.
The department is located in the Seventh Street Classroom building, and a tent will be set up for the event, which runs from 3 to 5 p.m. The trophy presentation will begin at 3:45 p.m. The campus community is invited to attend.
The program will include comments from President Stephen Jordan, Jeffrey Forrest, department chairman, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, and other dignitaries.
Guests also will be able to tour the department’s Robert K. Mock World Indoor Airport, which contains state-of-the-art aviation and aerospace computer and flight simulation equipment.
The Loening Trophy, presented annually by the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) foundation, represents excellence in aeronautical skills, and sets the current benchmark for an overall outstanding collegiate aviation program.
The Loening legacy
The trophy is named after aviation pioneer and inventor Grover Loening. As the first aeronautical engineer hired by the Wright Brothers to manage the Wright Aircraft Company, Loening judged the first award competition with Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart in 1929.
The College’s Precision Flight Team won the trophy at the 2011 SAFECON (Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference) competition hosted by Ohio State University, May 16-21, 2011. Key grading elements included the department’s record on academics, community involvement, aviation skills, safety and an ability to advance the profession.
“The recent award of the Loening Trophy to our department’s student body confirms what we, as faculty, have known for a long time, which is that our students (and department) are among the finest in the nation,” said Forrest. “Our Aviation and Aerospace Science students are able to compete and perform to superior standards with the best collegiate institutions in the country.”
There are more than 80 collegiate aviation programs in the U.S. and about 30 or so did well enough last year on regional NIFA competitions to go to the national competition, said Bert Boyce, NIFA Region 1 representative and flight instructor and supervisor at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“The award is really about the best aviation program in the country,” Boyce said. “If you looked at Metro State as a school of law, they went against Harvard, they went against Yale, they went against Princeton and Stanford, and they (the Loening evaluators) said Metro State is better. That would be the equivalent.”
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