Embry-Riddle’s Golden Eagles are the winningest intercollegiate flying team of the last two decades, including 31 consecutive regional championships and 11 national championships.
In honor of this record, the Prescott Campus flight team was inducted into the San Diego International Air & Space Museum’s Hall of Fame on Nov. 9, 2017. Since 1963, the hall of fame has honored more than 200 of the world’s most significant pilots, crew members, visionaries, inventors, aerospace engineers, business leaders, preservationists, designers and space pioneers.
The current team has 27 active members, four coaches and one adviser.
“This honor recognizes years of sacrifice and hard work,” says Head Coach Sam Morris (’16, PC). “Teams throughout the years have truly created a legacy that each team is expected to uphold or raise. It means that the current and future teams are setting out to do what their founders desired and that they truly epitomize the creed they follow.”
Golden Eagle alumnus William “Bill” Bayliss (’07, ’14, PC) would agree. He was chief pilot and president for the Golden Eagles in 2007 and 2008, when the flight team won its first back-to-back national championships. Bayliss was one of several alumni who attended the hall of fame ceremony in San Diego.
“It was an absolute honor to represent the team and all of the hard work, dedication and, of course, teamwork, that has brought 11 national championships back to the Prescott Campus,” Bayliss says. “We alumni are looking forward to the team winning the first three-peat [three consecutive championship wins] in a few months.”
Making the Team
To become a Golden Eagle, applicants are required to go through a six-week tryout period. Upon selection, the team trains several days a week, as well as most weekends, for competition, which culminates with more than 30 collegiate flight teams ultimately vying to become the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (NIFA SAFECON) champions.
“The common saying during our practices is ‘give it your all, and then do a little bit more,’” says Ryan O’Connor, current Golden Eagles team member. “This mentality and the resulting tradition of excellence has been a common theme among every team member throughout the years.”
The naming of the Golden Eagles Flight Team to the San Diego International Air & Space Museum’s Hall of Fame is an honor that is shared by the entire university community, says Prescott Campus Chancellor Frank Ayers.
“While the recognition clearly reflects the dedication and expertise of our flight team members, it also reflects positively on the commitment to excellence present across all disciplines at Embry-Riddle,” Ayers says.