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Tue, June 18

ERAU faculty member captures international flying awards

PRESCOTT – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has an international flying champion among its faculty members.

Bob Sweginnis, associate professor of aeronautical science, won first place in the Sportsman Category at the 2000 International Aerobatic Club (IAC) Champion-ships in Chandler March 28 to 31.

The IAC competition, also known as the Championships of the Americas, is the club's annual meet. This year's championships drew 77 pilots.

Judges selected Sweginnis from among 25 pilots competing in the second of five competition categories – Basic, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited.

Sweginnis and Mike Corradi, another Embry-Riddle professor, began competing in club events after they started teaching their students recovery procedures using aerobatic maneuvers in the Extreme Attitude Recovery Training. During that course, students learn to safely recover from inverted, straight-up and straight-down flight.

Corradi has also placed well in the Sportsman Category of several IAC regional competitions, including a first-place win in the Sportsman Gold Cup in Victorville, Calif., in May 1996. Scheduling conflicts did not allow Corradi to compete in the Championships of the Americas.

The IAC Sportsman competition requires the pilot to fly a loop, hammerhead turn and other known patterns, ending with a slow roll.

Sweginnis flew a Super Decathlon, while many other pilots in the event had higher-powered Extras, Giles, Zlins and Pitts. By placing first in the two known flights and second in the free flight, he walked away with two gold medals, one silver medal and a trophy for first place in the Sportsman category.

He also won the Lycoming 180 Trophy for achieving the highest percentage score in an aircraft of 180 horsepower or less and a $1,000 check from Textron Lycoming, which produces the only FAA-certified aerobatic piston engine.

Sweginnis also took the Pitts Cup for achieving the highest percentage of possible points during the championship. Pilots in all five categories compete for these two awards.

It took Sweginnis seven years of practice and competition to get two wooden plaques and his name on the list of national champions at the club's headquarters in Oshkosh, Wis.

"These are the most expensive pieces of wood in the Sweginnis household," he joked. "The trophies and acknowledgments are nice, but the Embry-Riddle students I've trained to become more skilled pilots mean much more to me."

Sweginnis, known to his friends as "Swig," is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew 254 Vietnam combat missions in the F-4. He and his wife, Jackie, have lived in Prescott since 1993.

At Embry-Riddle, he teaches courses in aerodynamics, aircraft performance and aviation safety.

His local affiliations suggest a love for airplanes. He is a member of the Prescott chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association and Prescott's Military Pilots association. He is a plebe with the Prescott Hangar of the Quiet Birdman, a national social club for pilots. Also, he is an adviser to the IAC student chapter.


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