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UPDATED! LETU 'Sting' Flight Team Ranks 3rd in the Nation in Flight Competition




LeTourneau University’s “nifa-team-photo.jpgSting” Precision Flight Team has been informed this week that it placed 3rd in the nation, not 4th as previously thought, due to a scoring error at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association SAFECON 2019 flight competition May 13-18.

An erroneous disqualification of LETU student and part-time instructor Benjamin White in the short field landing event at the national flight competition held at University of Wisconsin in Janesville was reviewed and found to be mistakenly applied.  Correcting this error resulted in a 3rd place overall national finish for LETU.

LETU placed in overall points behind University of North Dakota in first, Southern Illinois University in second, and ahead of last year’s national champion Embry Riddle University—Prescott, which now placed 4th.

In the flight events, LETU also placed 3rd behind SIU in first, UND in second, and ahead of Western Michigan University, which placed 4th

“Benjamin should have gotten 9th place and scored an additional 24 points for LETU, which places us in 3rd place in flight events and overall,” said LETU Chief Flight Instructor and NIFA team coach Jered Lease, who received a letter from NIFA with the good news about 3rd place finish this week. “Officially in the overall placing, UND had 484 points, SIU had 430 points, ERAU Prescott had 308 and LETU had 290, but with the additional 24 points added to LETU’s score for White’s 9th place finish, it put us at 314 overall, ahead of Embry Riddle Prescott. To score above this powerhouse is a huge accomplishment!” 

The 3rd place overall finish is record-breaking for LeTourneau University, which has placed five times in the Top 10, beating last year’s 5th place overall school record and their 7th place in 2017. LETU first began competing in NIFA competitions in 2004. LETU’s Sting flight team took 1st place regionally last October to qualify to compete in nationals.

In the overall scoring, LETU outranked Embry Riddle University—Prescott (4), United States Air Force Academy (5), Western Michigan (6) and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University —Daytona (7).

“I am so proud of this team!” Lease said. “Our success is a testament to this team’s hard work and our program’s focus on fundamental flying skills and back-to-basics approach to flying. God truly blessed the work of our hands, and for that, we're all thankful.                                   

An updated recap is as follows with the White’s short field landing added (highlighted in yellow):

Taking 1st place in the Instrument Simulated Flight competition was LETU pilot Thomas Alley who also took 3rd in the in the Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (SCAN) competition. Following Alley in SCAN were Joshua Kelly at 6th, Benjamin White at 12th, Donavon Taves at 71st, and Erica Swenson at 105th. Alley took 4th in the Ground Trainer competition with Erica Swenson following in 23rd place. Alley took 4th in the national Top Pilot competition with Benjamin White following in 14th.

In the Traditional Navigation competition, Benjamin White (Pilot) and James Hulsey (Safety Observer) took 2nd place, Thomas Alley (Pilot) and Noah Bronner (Safety Observer) took 4th place, and Jonathan Rurup (Pilot) and David Erickson (Safety Observer) took 6th place.

In Aircraft Preflight Inspection Noah Bronner took 7th place while Jonathan Rurup placed 19th.

In Computer Accuracy James Hulsey took 4th place, Jonathan Rurup placed 14th, and David Erickson placed 49th.

In Crew Resource Management/Line Oriented Flight Training Jonathan Rurup (Pilot) and Thomas Alley (Navigator) took 4th place.

In Short Field Landing Joshua Kelly took 7th place, Benjamin White took 9th, and Thomas Alley followed taking 12th place.

Regional Top Pilot awards went to Benjamin White.

Receiving the Outstanding Team Member Award for LETU was Silas Stanton.

LETU placed 10th for Judges Trophy competition.

Other results for LETU were as follows:

Message Drop

Silas Stanton (Dropmaster) and Jeffery Rosinbaum (Pilot) placed 20th

Simon Awcock (Dropmaster) and Benjamin White (Pilot) placed 57th

Donavon Taves (Dropmaster) and James Hulsey (Pilot) placed 64th

Keenan Yannibelli (Dropmaster) and Joshua Kelly (Pilot) Placed 71st

David Erickson (Dropmaster) and Erica Swenson (Pilot) placed 88th

Aircraft Recognition

Silas Stanton placed 16th

Simon Awcock placed 30th              

Keenan Yannibelli placed 42nd

Jeffrey Rosinbaum placed 78th

Power Off Landing

Thomas Alley placed 23rd

Joshua Kelly placed 31st

Erica Swenson placed 94th

James Hulsey placed 104th

Top Scoring Contestant of the top 355 ranked

Thomas Alley, 4th

Benjamin White, 19th

Jonathan Rurup, 20th

Joshua Kelly, 21st

James Hulsey, 59th

Noah Bronner, 69th

Silas Stanton, 106th

Jeffery Rosinbaum, 145th tie

David Erickson, 145th tie

Simon Awcock, 145th tie

Keenen Yannibelli, 145th tie

LeTourneau University is the Christian polytechnic university in the nation where educators engage students to nurture Christian virtue, develop competency and ingenuity in their professional fields, integrate faith and work, and serve the local and global community. LETU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs across a range of disciplines and delivery models at LETU’s residential campus in Longview, Texas, hybrid options at centers in the Dallas and Houston areas and fully online programs. For additional information, visit


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