University Flying Club – Once Only Social, Now Competitive

MADISON, WIS. – “Badger Aviators” is a student organization founded in 2009 to share flying with fellow students. Each month members select a different destination to fly to, usually to have breakfast or lunch at an airport restaurant, but interest and enthusiasm in the organization has grown to be much more than that.

Josh Gilberts, the current president of Badger Aviators and a senior studying industrial engineering, decided to start the “Wisconsin Aviation Team,” a competitive flying team within the organization.

In October 2013, the team participated in its first flight competition in Dubuque, Iowa, which consisted of both flying skills and ground events, including comprehension tests. Though the team did not advance in the competition, Gilberts said they surprised a lot of people by what they accomplish with limited resources.

UW-Madison was the only team competing that did not have an aviation program through its university. That means members who compete must pay for the cost of training and participating out of their own pockets. Gilberts said the Wisconsin Aviation Team plans to compete again in regionals next fall with the hope of moving on to nationals.

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