With more than half of his squad potentially competing for the first time, Nathan Lincoln, head coach of Southern Illinois University’s Flying Salukis, had a few anxious moments leading to the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region VIII competition.
But a blend of veterans and youth during the Oct. 29-Nov. 2 event at Southern Illinois Airport was the right mix as the team won a ninth straight regional crown and will advance to national competition for a 50th time in 51 years.
Winning nine straight regional titles is difficult. Lincoln said it’s a “shining example of what a prestigious flight school we have here at SIU.”
“Winning with such a young team is an amazing accomplishment,” he added. “I am so proud of the way they worked together to not only better themselves but the team as a whole.”
Taking both the ground and flight event divisions and having five of the top six scoring contestants, SIU finished with 341 points, nearly doubling second-place Lewis University. Purdue University was third. The top two teams advance to the national finals, May 18-23, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at Wittman Regional Airport.
Results are available on the NIFA website.