By: Sam Morris
Special to Horizons Golden Eagles Flight Team Head Coach
From Feb. 23 through Feb. 24, the Golden Eagles Flight Team hosted its first Alumni Reunion since its inception in 1979.
Over 40 of the team’s alumni came out for the event spanning generations, from 2017 graduates to the team’s first president in 1979.
The event was combined with the official building dedication at the Flight Line, F6, which is now “The Dick Samuels Flight Instructor Building.”
Dick Samuels was a 22-year Air Force pilot and a 22-year ERAU Flight Instructor who also coached the Flight Team to its first of 31 consecutive regional championships and the team’s first three national championships in 1993, 1997, and 1999.
The building re-naming was in conjunction with a scholarship fund in Dick’s name that has raised over $110,000 to help future students attain their CFI.
Two of ERAU-Prescott’s Board of Visitors, Katie Pribyl and Gabe Navarrete, were in attendance for span of the weekend’s events.
The weekend allowed team alumni to compete, reconnect, and fly the team’s aircraft once again.
The Golden Eagles Flight Team holds the highest number of championships at ERAU-Prescott, as well as in the entire nation at NIFA within the last 20 years.
This was an opportunity for team members of the past to see how far the team has come and the amount of support it has garnered from the university.
Additionally, it was an opportunity for current team members to see where they started and what it was like in the beginning to further appreciate what the team currently has, as well as what the team continues to work for.
The team’s current assistant coach, Rachel Hutzell, was responsible for the creation and operation of the entire event, which sparked more inspiration throughout the team than ever before seen.
he reunion kicked off the final leg of the team’s preparation for the 2018 SAFECON competition in Terra Haute, Ind., starting April 30.
The team will be competing for its 12th national title and it’s third national title in a row – a “threepeat” – which has never been done in modern NIFA history.