Aviation Institute wins award tied to history

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By Kelsey Stewart, News Editor

UNO’s Aviation Institute landed the prestigious Loening Trophy Thursday, Aug. 23.
In May, students Zach Ossino and Deanna Stoddard gave a presentation about UNO’s program to a panel of judges at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association SAFECON competition at Kansas State University.
The award recognizes UNO as having the most outstanding collegiate aviation program in the country.
“The biggest thing to take away from this is the history and prestige the award has,” said Scott Vlasek, director of the Aviation Institute. “To be linked to it and to have won it is truly amazing.”
The award is named after Grover Loening, the first person in the United States to receive an aeronautical engineering degree. Loening was also the first aeronautical engineer for the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur.
“It’s a very prestigious award, given the names associated with it,” Stoddard said.
The silver trophy designed by Tiffany & Co. dates back to 1929. Some of the first judges of the contest were pilots Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Adm. John Towers.
UNO’s competition included the University of North Dakota and the Air Force Academy, Vlasek said.
“It’s a representation not only of our flight team but the Aviation Institute, the students and faculty and what we do,” Stoddard said. “It shows our future potential and how we’re making a mark.”
The Loening Trophy wasn’t the only award UNO brought home.
While Ossino and Stoddard were busy presenting on the Aviation Institute’s community involvement, academic performance, contribution to aviation and other criteria, the Flying Mavs were demonstrating their flying skills.
The Flying Mavs earned the Progress Award, for being the most improved team from the previous year. Overall, UNO placed 11th out of 28 teams.
“We do a number of things in the Institution, and for all of that to come together and be recognized as the most outstanding collegiate program is tremendous,” Vlasek said. “It speaks to the fact that we have a tremendous program and we’re proud of it.”

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