EAA hosts collegiate pilot competition

Young pilots are competing in the air and on the ground
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 5:30 AM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Ohio State University flight team member Anastasia Rogachevsky discovered her love of airplanEs when she was very young and traveling with her immigrant parents back to visit family in Eastern Europe.

“Visiting them, flying to my family in these big airplanes, that was always my favorite part,” said Anastasia Rogachevsky, junior aviation major at Ohio State University.

Now she competes on her school’s flight team, and they’re looking to win a different kind of national championship for the Buckeyes.

“Hopefully here to take home the gold! We’re here to compete but were also here to meet friends, to just enjoy Oshkosh,” Rogachevsky said.

Almost 500 aviation students from across the country are competing for the top pilot and top team prize at the National Intercollegiate Flight Association SAFECON Flight Competition.

“Not everything’s in the airplane. There are various competitions that are in the airplane that are precision-related, precision landing, precision navigation, things like that,” said Taylor Newman, National Intercollegiate Flight Association executive director, “but then there’s also ground testing for various written tests that they do, there’s simulator testing, how well they fly certain approaches, procedures, patterns, things like that.”

In addition to showcasing their skills and competing against each other, students have the opportunity to get to know each other as potential future colleagues.

“Just because you didn’t go to the same school, you’re going to work with somebody else who went to another university, that learned to fly somewhere else, and you’re going to be in an airline crew environment or a corporate environment with them and this is a great way to network,” Newman said.

This is the first time the competition is being hosted in Oshkosh, and EAA expects it to make a big economic impact.

“So you’re probably looking at tens of thousands of dollars by the time the hotels, the meals, their transportation, and everything else is paid for,” said Dick Knapinski, EAA director of communications. “And of course, having them here at EAA, they’re aviation geeks like the rest of us so we’ll probably see some of them back here in late July for Airventure.”

Rogachevsky will be competing along with students from 28 different universities all week, with the winners awarded on Friday.