A national title that has stood for 65 years

Another incredible week has come to a close. This past week here at the University of Oklahoma we  had the honor of hosting the region 6 National Intercollegiate Flight Association (NIFA) competition, and we had an incredible time hosting the event. I will be posting the official results in my next post since I’m waiting for permission and an email from the region 6 chief judge as well as uploading pictures that everyone took and my personal experience competing in the competition. For this weeks post I thought it would be cool to talk about one of our distinguished guest and speakers from the award banquet, Bill Paul who is an alumni of the University of Oklahoma class of 1952 and who also still holds the national record for the navigation event.

Image, it’s 1951 and you are competing in the NIFA competition on the national stage. The navigation event is where you are given a set of coordinates and points across the area which you must fly over. Before you do the flying portion, you are given one hour to plan where these points are, your estimated time it will take to complete the route, and your fuel burn. Now don’t forget it’s 1951 so you don’t have any GPS, no satellite images, or anything. Bill Paul a junior at the time is competing in the event for the University of Oklahoma has been training for the past few months preparing for the event. After his one hour planning, doing the calculations, and seeing the coordinate points; Bill has estimated that it will take him a total of 1 hour,11  minutes,  and 10 seconds. Bill was the only contestant at the time who turned in a time with seconds.

Bill took off from the airport in Norman (which the University of Oklahoma was hosting the national NIFA competition that year) in Aeronca Champion aircraft. With no stop watch and only the map that he did all of his planning on, Bill completes the event and awaits his time. Bill’s total time was 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 11 seconds. Bill was only one second off of his estimated time and his record still is a national record to this very day.


(This is the type of aircraft Bill flew)

Unfortunately, the OU aviation department took the trophy that Bill received and was never seen again. When Bill heard that we were hosting this years regional competition he asked us to see if his trophy was still somewhere in the aviation department. After two months of searching throughout our department our director found his trophy. As part of this years award banquet we asked Bill Paul to attend the ceremony and officially claim his trophy 65 years later.

It was such an honor for us to have Bill Paul and especially for him to speak about his experience 65 years ago. Even though he was very honored to receive the trophy, he actually asked for us to keep his award so that he could show his grand children as well as motivating us to keep on flying and competing in events like NIFA.

(Bill is the third man on the left side holding the trophy)

Well everyone that’s it for this week like I said I will be posting official results from our regional contest, if you would like to see the results from this weeks contest please visit https://nifa.aero/ also visit globalair. com for other people’s blog on aviation related subjects at https://blog.globalair.com/. Remember guys as always “Adventure is out there”.


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