UND Aerobatic Team finds itself back on top, reestablishing winning tradition
By, Connor Murphy
Ten years ago, Andrew Hollingsworth was in Odegard Hall, on a field trip from his hometown of Fargo.
He remembers seeing banners in the rotunda – markers of championships for the UND Aerobatic Team. He also remembers getting hooked on the idea of flying upside-down after seeing the “bright planes” as an elementary school student.
In 2018, Hollingsworth, a junior at UND, made his first dive into competitive aerobatics, in Salem, Ill. Today, he can consider himself a champion.
It was announced recently that the UND Aerobatic Team secured its 10th National Championship in 11 seasons.
“It’s surreal to look around and know I’m a part of all this,” Hollingsworth said, not too far from where he first became enamored with the sport. “I’m happy to be here.”
Reclaiming the throne
After a brief slip to second place in 2017, UND reclaimed the collegiate throne of the International Aerobatic Club (IAC) in 2018 after a series of competitions in Salem, Ill.; Spencer, Iowa; Oshkosh, Wis.; and Lamar, Colo. The final results went public last week following an averaging of season scores between competing institutions.
Commercial aviation alum Jarrett Croy led the team as president, with senior Alex Hunt, as captain. The team included Elizabeth Birch, James Jacobson, Torin Walhood, Mitch Oswalkd, Ashton Croy and Elise Wheelock.
Michael Lents, assistant professor of aviation and a master certified flight instructor, has been with the team since 2008 and serves as head coach.
“We started out strong, and early, with a lot of team practice,” Lents said, describing the team’s championship stature. “They did a great job of carrying that momentum and I was extremely proud of how it all came together.”
Lents’ own aerobatic pursuits, highlighted by his qualification for the 2018 World Advanced Aerobatic Championships in Ploiesti, Romania, presented a bit of a challenge for his students in the middle of the season. He credits his veteran students for their ability to lead, maintain and practice whenever possible.