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More than a dozen current and former aviation students and faculty at the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology gathered in Athens on May 30 for On the Green Weekend’s Department of Aviation Reunion.
The weekend of presentations, meetings and receptions marks the 75th year of aviation education at Ohio University.
“The event is an effort to get alumni together to share their experiences and also allow the opportunity for students to discuss the pathway to their upcoming career after graduation,” said Bryan Branham, department chair. “This is also an opportunity for alumni to see the changes in the department and share how the industry has and is changing.”
Former flight instructor Mike Hoffman, also a retired captain who flew with US Airways for nearly 35 years before retiring in 2002, flew in for the occasion on his Cessna 180 from his current home base in New Hampshire.
“I’m here to reconnect with old friends,” said Hoffman, who taught alongside former and first woman department chair Joan Mace in the early 1970s. “I was part of the class of ’64, so it was a very special weekend for me in multiple respects.”
Mace, meanwhile, was pleased to see her former students and co-workers enjoying themselves at the Fuller Aviation Center reception.
“It’s great to see the kids get together like this,” Mace said. “That’s what makes it fun for me.”
A member of the Department of Aviation Advisory Board, Mace shepherded the construction of the Francis Fuller Flight Training Center and partnered with US Airways for an internship program.
The weekend’s celebrations coincided with the annual On the Green Weekend hosted by Ohio University Alumni Association.
The weekend of events include the airport networking reception as well as a dinner in the airport hangar on Saturday featuring keynote speeches by Mace and alumnus Connie Tobias, a captain with USAirways and emerita member of the Russ College Board of Visitors.
Benjamin Brierly, a 2011 graduate of the aviation flight program, viewed the alumni reunion as both business and pleasure at this early phase in his career.
“You never know who you’re going to meet,” said Brierly, a pilot with Republic Airways out of Indianapolis, Ind. “I’m trying to network a little and do some recruiting.”