John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Four in a row: UND Aerobatics Team wins another national championship

With a sweep of the four top spots in individual Primary and leading spots in other individual competitions, UND aviatiors nailed their fourth consecutive team championship at the U.S. National Aerobatic Contest. The competition results were announced recently by the International Aerobatic Club (IAC).

Individual congratulations go to the following UND students and Aerobatic Team pilots in the Sportsman category: Aaron Fettig, first place with 84.30 percent; and Nathan Bush with 83.13 percent. Collegiate individual winners must be full-time undergraduate students, compete in the Sportsman category or above, and compete in at least three IAC-sanctioned competitions during the contest season. The winners in the Primary category were Ben Hoffman, UND, first, 83.91 percent; Tyler Youngren, UND, second, 81.71 percent; Chistian Olsen, UND, third, 81.25 percent; and Karin Hensellek, UND, third, 73.91 percent.

The UND Aerobatic team—coached by Mike Lents, a UND aviation lecturer—placed first with 87.88 percent; Embry Riddle Aeronautical University placed second with 84.52 percent; and the U.S. Air Force Academy placed third with 82.58 percent. Qualified collegiate teams must have at least three pilots competing in three IAC-sanctioned competitions during the contest season with one of the pilots flying in the Sportsman category or above.

Scores from the highest scoring Sportsman pilot—UND’s Fettig was tops in this category—are selected, then the two next highest scoring pilots regardless of category are selected, and an average of all three pilots’ scores is used to determine a team’s final standing.

The Primary category—with UND pilots winning the top four spots—is the first level of aerobatic competition categories. It consists of a 45-degree up-line, a one-turn spin, a half-cuban, a loop, a 180 degree competition turn, and a slow roll. The Sportsman category consists of several more advanced maneuvers, totaling 11 figures.

This national victory represents the pinnacle of performance in one of the world’s most difficult and challenging sports. Aerobatic flight, which is taught at UND, is a highly specialized and rigorously demanding area of general aviation that requires highly focused attention, discipline, physical conditioning, and a broad spectrum of expert flying skills.

“The technical definition for it is ‘precise maneuvering in three-dimensional space,’” said Joe Vacek, an attorney and accomplished aerobatic pilot and assistant professor of aviation. He is the team’s faculty advisor and safety pilot. Several other Aerobatic Team members volunteered their time, assisted with team preparation, and attended competitions that are held throughout the Midwest.

The UND Aerobatic Team is especially grateful to UND Aerospace and UND Flight Operations for the tremendous support for this competition.

The aerobatic tradition is long and strong at UND. Former UND student and current airline captain Jeff Boerboon is a clear testament to this: Boerboon is a U.S. and international aerobatic champion with many top trophies to his name; he is captain of Team USA (see and ) . He credits Kent Lovelace, professor and chair of UND Aviation, with motivating and coaching him to great success as a pilot.

The UND Aerobatic Team competes at the collegiate level at aerobatic competitions around the United States at IAC-sanctioned events.

UND operates two American Champion Aircraft Super Decathlons for its aerobatic team, aerobatic courses, tail wheel training and spin training.