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Ohio University flight team lands 10th in nation

ATHENS, Ohio (May 13, 2004) -- Ohio University's flight team placed 10th nationwide at the 2004 National Intercollegiate Flying Association's Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (NIFA SAFECON), beating out the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.

One of the most prestigious events in collegiate aviation, the NIFA SAFECON competition brings top aviation students together with judges and sponsors from leading aviation corporations. More than 80 university flight teams competed this year, first at qualifying regional competitions, then at the national competition, held April 28-May 1 at Middle Tennessee State University in Mufreesboro. Ohio University was among 31 schools that participated.

Teams competed in both ground and flight events, including aircraft recognition, pre-flight inspection, flight computer accuracy, precision landings, cross-country navigation, flight simulator proficiency and a written exam that tested the contestants' knowledge of aeronautical charts, federal regulations, aircraft performance and aerodynamics.

In addition to placing 10th nationwide, Ohio University's Flying Bobcats also won the Collegiate Aviation Progress Award, given to the team with the greatest improvements over the year. Flying Bobcat Karrie Shank, a freshman from Circleville, Ohio, won the top scoring female contestant and the Candi Kubeck Award for the most points among all female participants. She and teammate Kurt Schoenhals, a junior from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., won fourth place in the message drop event, wherein competitors drop an object on a target from a low altitude.

Other team members who received individual awards included Matt Friesner, a senior from Columbus, Ohio, fifth place in power-off landings; and Robert McCoy, a sophomore from Litchfield, Conn., and Johann Gebauer, a sophomore from Amelia, Ohio, eighth place in navigation. The outstanding team member award went to Paige Schroeder, a senior from Springboro, Ohio, for contributions to the team.

"It was a truly remarkable team effort. Without everyone's dedication, time and effort, we would not have made it this far," said Juan Merkt, chair of the Ohio University Department of Aviation, which has been educating pilots since 1939.

The Flying Bobcats are coached by Shaun Elliott with assistant coaches Kristin Shoemaker and Nate Hines, and team adviser Deak Arch. Formed in 1940 by Ohio University flight students, the team has been competing in NIFA competitions since the mid-'60s.

The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, educates well-rounded professionals with both technical and team-project skills. The Russ College offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across the traditional engineering spectrum and in technology disciplines such as aviation, computer science, and industrial technology. Research areas currently receiving significant funding include avionics, distributed and secure computing, fuel cells, oil and gas pipeline corrosion, and environmental pipes and culverts. Named for alumnus Fritz Russ and his wife Dolores, the Russ College is home of the Russ Prize, one of the top three engineering prizes in the world. For more information, visit www.ohio.edu/engineering.

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Media Contact: Russ College Director of External Relations Colleen Girton, (740) 593-1488 or girtonc@ohio.edu, or Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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