Award confirms it: Lewis’ aviation program soaring
BY TINA AKOURIS email@example.com September 27, 2013 10:21PM
Members of the Lewis University flight team pose with the Loening Trophy. | Supplied photo
Updated: October 30, 2013 6:52AM
For the first time ever, Lewis University’s aviation program is celebrating a very prestigious award, one given annually to the nation’s best collegiate aviation department.
In a ceremony Thursday on Lewis’ campus in Romeoville, the department received the Loening Trophy, which since 1929 has been awarded to the most outstanding college aviation department. Kent State University in Ohio won the award in 2012.
Bill Brogan, chair of Lewis’ aviation and transportation department, said the award is going to enhance the department’s already steady growth. It has grown from 300 students to its current enrollment of 600 over the last six years, he said.
“I think the momentum is getting better and this trophy highlights that fact in and of itself,” Brogan said. “Being recognized by a governing and judging body sees this improvement. That should be another cog in (our) wheel to demonstrate our aviation department.”
Competition for the Loening Trophy is intense. Brogan said judges look at every aspect of a program. Not a stone goes unturned.
“They judge everything that happens at a university,” Brogan said. “We fill out a lengthy application that requires information from individuals themselves to what the school is doing to promote aviation and its overall performance.”
The award comes on the heels of some notable achievements for Lewis at two major flight competitions. Brogan said students from his department finished third at a regional competition and then eighth at the national flight competition this past spring at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
The competitions encompass air and ground exercises, which include students flying aircraft and being judged on landings, and navigating a GPS course requiring them to fly a specific route over a certain amount of time. There’s even a drill where students have to drop a sandbag out of an aircraft’s window to see how close to a target the bag lands.
“There’s a simulation test on the ground, too,” Brogan said. “And students also have to inspect an airplane and find a (pre-existing) problem with it. There’s a whole host of things that students are judged on.”
Brogan said the aviation department is hosting the Chicago Area Business Aviation Association meeting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Harold White Aviation Center. The keynote speaker is Dr. Susan Shea, the head of the Illinois Division of Aeronautics.
The school is also hosting its annual aviation career conference from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 23. The event is open to high school students and current Lewis students.