Hundreds of aviation students flock to Mankato for regional flight competition

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A little bit of rain and cold weather didn’t stop 150 students and coaches from participating in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region VI Competition.

The competition is being hosted by Minnesota State University, Mankato, and includes competitors from eight universities across the Midwest.

“It’s just an honor for us to have all of the schools here and show off our city and our college,” said Catherine Plasschaert, a faculty member at Minnesota State Mankato and an alumna of its aviation program

Aric Anderson, who is a captain on the team, can attest that this challenge is more than just wits and knowledge.

“It’s something that I miss from high school. Being a three-sport athlete, I was a football player, I played basketball and I was also a captain on our track team. The competitive aspect where, yes, doing something that I love and having the ability to demonstrate my personal abilities at a competitive and collegiate level,” explained Anderson.

This test of aviation skills includes events on the ground in the air.

“Which is having each student fly the flight simulator on the ground, simulating that they are flying in the clouds,” Plasschaert said.

The flight challenges in the air are a little different from the ones on land.

“The navigation event, or NAV for short. Basically what happens is a team of two is going to be given a route that they have to plan for — basically fly that route to the best of their ability. They are all graded, judged on timing, fuel management, such as that,” Anderson explained.

Students who place in the regional competition will move on to a national competition in the spring. But It’s not all about placing and competing.

“Four different sponsors here, talking with students and recruiting. Talking more about their companies and some opportunities in the field. The students have really enjoyed talking to those employers and kind of just finding out what opportunities are out there for them,” Plasschaert said.

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