COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The skies around Columbus and Ohio State University Airport will be filled with hundreds of planes this week, landing and taking off for a national flight tournament.

“This is like the NCAA basketball bracket for aviation schools,” said Adam Wolf, airport director for the Ohio State University Airport.

Wolf said they’re honored to host the return of SAFECON, a safety flight and evaluation conference, where over 28 teams comprised of almost 500 students, will engage in flight and ground events.

“It’s a lot, so yeah, our control tower is working very diligently to keep everything safe, but keep it fun and light atmosphere,” he said.

Meanwhile, the students are tested on multiple disciplines, including navigation, take-off, and landing.

“I started coming out when I was still in high school, and I loved it,” said Eleanor Brown, a flight instructor for the Ohio State University Flight Team.

Members of the Ohio State University Flight Team said it’s a chance to further their careers.

“Airlines or corporate, just looking to fly planes, fly jets in the future,” said Chris Du, a pilot with the Ohio State University Flight Team.

“It’s the best of the best here, from aviation all around the country, and they’re showcasing their skills, they’re showcasing precision, and just also having a great time networking,” said John Ginley, head coach of the Ohio State University Flight Team.

That camaraderie is something students like Noah Pattan said is helping to inspire the next generation of young pilots.

“We’re all competitors, we’re all from different schools, we’re all from different backgrounds, but here in a few years, we’re all going to be in the same planes, we’re all going to be working for a handful of different companies, we’re going to be sharing the skies together,” he said.

The results of the competition will be announced Saturday, and this is the first in-person event for SAFECON in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.