Ohio State University was ineligible to go to a college football bowl game following last year's undefeated season, but this past week the major "bowl game" of college aviation came to OSU.
The Ohio State University Airport off West Case Road on the Northwest Side for the seventh time was the host site for the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's annual Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference, also known as SAFECON.
A total of 29 schools, including the host university, entered teams of 14 to 15 competitors plus two coaches or advisers in the 12-event competition, according to Jonathan Denison.
The full-time graduate student in the MBA program at Ohio State was president of SAFECON 2013.
The dozen competitions included eight ground events, things such as written tests and a preflight evaluation in which SAFECON judges "bug" 60 things on a plane and student teams have 15 minutes to find as many of them as they can, according to Denison, whose undergraduate degree from OSU is in aerospace engineering.
"It's really impressive to see," he said of the student pilots working feverishly to identify the problems the judges have created on an aircraft.
The four flying events test, among other things, the ability of pilots to take off and land within short distances, including trying to touch down on a line across the runway, Denison said. In another of the flying competitions, a pilot and copilot work together at an altitude of 200 feet in the "message drop," trying to land a block of balsa wood with a streamer on it in a barrel on the ground below.
There's also a navigation event in which student teams plan an entire flight and are judged on how accurately they adhere to it, including reaching specific checkpoints on time,he said.
The colleges and universities competing in last week's SAFECON 2013 earned the right to be there through regional SAFECON events held in the fall.
Points were accumulated in each of the 12 disciplines to determine the teams making it to the finals.
Don Scott Field previously hosted SAFECON in 1960, 1985, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2011, according to Denison, who hopes to parlay his master of business administration degree into a career in the field of aviation.
"I would like aviation to be in the professional part of my life," Denison said. "It will always be in my personal life."
"The National Intercollegiate Flying Association began as the National Intercollegiate Flying Club prior to World War II," according to the website of the University of Nebraska, Omaha, one of the competitors in last week's SAFECON.
The NIFC, which had been hosting flying competitions for a number of Ivy League schools, ended in the 1930s because of the Great Depression.
In 1948, the flying club was reborn as the National Intercollegiate Flying Association under the direction of Professor Troy Stimson of Texas Christian University.
During the first air meet, held May 5-7, 1949, 18 schools attended. Today, the number of teams has risen to 70 that participate in various air meets, according to the website.
Many aviation special interest groups and industries support NIFA.
Planning for SAFECON 2013 began 18 months ago when the OSU Airport was awarded the right to host the competition once again, Denison said.
He worked with a cabinet of student officers to ensure things ran smoothly, and they did.
"It really has gone well," Denison said during the middle of last week's SAFECON.
"I'm working with a lot of people who are very dedicated and very intelligent.
"All of the judges who volunteer for NIFA ... have quite a few SAFECONS under their belts so they kind of know the routine," Denison said.
"There aren't many surprises for them which makes everyone's job easier."
Schools that sent teams to SAFECON 2013 included: The United States Air Force Academy; Metro State College of Denver; Utah Valley University; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott (Ariz.) Campus; San Diego Christian College; Ohio University; Ohio State University; Kent State University; Western Michigan University; Mount San Antonio College; Central Texas College; LeTourneau University of Longview, Texas; Texas State Technical College; University of North Dakota; Minnesota State University, Mankato; University of Dubuque; Southeastern Oklahoma State University; Kansas State University, Salina; University of Nebraska, Omaha; U.S. Military Academy; Dowling College of Shirley, N.Y.; Southern Illinois University; Lewis University of Romeoville, Ill.; University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona (Fla.) Campus; Florida Institute of Technology; Liberty University of Lynchburg, Va.; Guilford Technical Community College of High Point, N.C.