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LETU Flight Team Wins Prestigious Loening Trophy, Places 11th in Nation


LeTourneau University's School of Aeronautical Science has a brand new trophy for its new trophy case when it moves into its new location this summer at the East Texas Regional Airport.
LETU's flight team won the coveted Loening Trophy at the 2009 SAFECON competition hosted by Park College in St. Louis, Mo. Considered the most prestigious award at the annual SAFECON competition, the Loening Trophy is awarded to the outstanding all-around collegiate aviation program in the nation.
The award represents superb achievement in aeronautical skills and represents the current benchmark for an overall outstanding collegiate aviation program. Keys to selection for the award include emphasis on academics, community involvement, aviation skills and their advancement, a comprehensive safety program and professionalism combined with a proactive enhancement of the future of aviation.
"This recognition from an independent panel of judges from the aviation industry is proof that LETU has one of the best collegiate programs in the country," said LETU flight team faculty adviser Brad Wooden. "We have always known we had a great program. Now everyone does."
The perpetual trophy is made of pure silver designed by Tiffany and dates back to 1929 when aviation pioneer and inventor Dr. Grover Loening saw the need to recognize the most outstanding achievements in college aviation programs. Loening was the first aeronautical engineer for the Wright Brothers. Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart assisted Loening in judging the first competition. The actual Loening Trophy is kept at the Seattle Museum of Flight. The school was given a take-home trophy.
LeTourneau University's aeronautical science "Sting Precision Flight Team" placed 11 th overall in the nation, having won first in regional competition last October. At nationals recently, they competed against over 300 students from 28 teams from all over the country, including Embry Riddle, Western Michigan, Southern Illinois, Kent State and the United States Air Force Academy.
Chris Barnes was LETU's highest scoring competitor placing 2nd in the IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) Ground Trainer Event. Rachel Ballou was 3 rd in the Women's Achievement Award. Barnes and Alex Minium placed 6 th in the Crew Resource Management Event. The team also won 3 rd place in the American Airlines Safety Award Presentation.
"We have a very young team this year," Wooden said. "Nine of the 16 students we took to national competition this year had never competed nationally before. I'm very proud of their accomplishment."
Team members who competed with Barnes, Ballou and Minium, included Jared Gebel, Marc Gravelle, Daniel Grollimund, Leanne Haycraft, Steve Hederstedt, Ben Hoogewerf, Brandon McCann, Chad Mertz, Ken Misiak, Sam Myers, Andrew Robinson, Caleb Waite and Andre Ziolkowski. LETU flight instructor Roger Braun was the team coach.

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