HamptonUniversity’s Flight Team could be grounded for a thirdconsecutive year, unable to fly in a contest considered thepinnacle of aviation competitions, unless the Hamptonadministration provides financial assistance, according to theuniversity’s Aviation Department.
HamptonUniversity is the only HBCU thatqualified for the NationalIntercollegiate Flying Association’s National Safety and FlightEvaluation Conference,to be held April 27 to May 1 atMiddleTennesseeStateUniversity in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
“The last time I went to the nationals,NorfolkStateUniversity must have been 90 percent of the minoritiesthere,” said flight team coach Darryl Stubbs, who also serves onthe flying association’s board of directors.
The competition gives Hampton the chance to”prove to the world that not all pilots are white,” said LindaNewcomb, an associate professor of aviation.
Students showcase their skills as individualsand as team members while competing in land and air events.
The conference also gives students a chance tonetwork with military, commercial airliner and aviation schoolrepresentatives.
“This is my career fair,” said JonathonTurman, flight team co-captain.
The team has attempted to raise the estimated$15,000 needed for the trip but continues to come up short. Costsinclude renting two airplanes, housing and practice time, saidflight team coach Darryl Stubbs, an associate aviationprofessor.
Only after placing third in the Region 10competitions did the team earns a spot at the nationals to competeagainst 30 schools. Hampton supported the team financially duringthe regionals.
The team has been forced to decline theconference for the past two years when, Aviation Department ChairCarey L. Freeman said, the university’s travel funds werefrozen.
Stubbs said a request to go to SAFECON wasmade in early December. As of press time, HamptonUniversity had notresponded.
“It’s not just about showing up, it’s aboutsafety and preparations,” said Stubbs.
“I’ve seen schools at the competition thatwere unable to perform effectively because they were drained fromfundraising,” he said.
“The flight team has earned the right toattend SAFECON,” Stubbs continued. “Denying the team an opportunityto compete is like denying the football team a shot at the nationaltitle. If we don’t get a response soon, we will have toinform the team next in line to give them ample time toprepare.”
Next in line is LenoirCommunity College inKinson, N.C. Doretha Spells, Hampton vice president forbusiness affairs and treasurer, did not return calls for aninterview, but her secretary said Spells would look further intothe situation.
Terrance Allen, a senior flight educationmajor from San Francisco, said he felt frustrated.
“I was under the impression that the deal wasif we won the regional, Hampton would assist with preparations forthe nationals,” Allen said.
“If HamptonUniversity were to help us out, itwould be an excellent marketing tool for the school,” said MichaelMorris, team co-captain and a senior flight education major fromFlorissant, Mo.
Newcomb, an air traffic controller and Hamptonassociate professor, maintains she is optimistic. “I just have afeeling that we’re going to attend, she said.
David Paulk is a student at HamptonUniversitywho writes for The Hampton Script.