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Russ College flight team called on to judge world’s premiere paper airplane competition

 | Mar 23, 2015
Red Bull paperplanes
Aviation Chair Bryan Branham, left, and senior Matthew Kershaw share a laugh while assessing paper aircraft.Photos by Rob Hardin

Russ College flight team called on to judge world’s premiere paper airplane competition

Mar 23, 2015
Aviation Chair Bryan Branham, left, and senior Matthew Kershaw share a laugh while assessing paper aircraft.
Aviation Chair Bryan Branham, left, and senior Matthew Kershaw share a laugh while assessing paper aircraft. Photos by Rob Hardin

Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology Flying Bobcats flight team experienced takeoffs not from the cockpit, but from the judges’ bench at the largest international paper airplane contest Friday.

More than 2,000 students at 76 universities are competing across the country in the global Red Bull Paper Wings competition. Nearly 70 Bobcats stepped up to the launch line Friday at Walter Fieldhouse for the qualifier to be judged across three categories: longest distance, longest airtime and aerobatics.

Organizers for the event, held during the annual cancer research fundraiser Relay for Life, tapped the Russ College aviation students for their flight expertise.

“I got to critique others airplanes and how they performed. Some of my aviation expertise came into play,” said aviation junior Corey Fisher. “The coolest thing to me was seeing all the people interested in this aviation-related event and how people got really into it.”

Red Bull field marketing specialist Steven Gutterson said he hopes to cultivate a longstanding relationship with the Department of Aviation for future events and noted he was impressed with each student design.

“I thought [the aviation students] were great,” he said. “They put together some of the most unique and creative crafts and did really well in the hang time and aerobatics category.”

As of Friday night, Austin Moore, a freshman studying marketing, who ranked first at the OHIO qualifier, had the top distance in the nation with 27.56 meters.

“I just threw it hard and tried to throw it high so it could carry,” Moore said. “I never actually have done a paper plane contest, so I got a little lucky.”

The first place winner in each category received a Red Bull OGIO backpack, second place took home a Google Chromecast, and third place won a 24-pack of Red Bull. Twelve national finalists will travel to the global finals in Salzburg, Austria, on May 8-9.

Aviation Chair Bryan Branham presided as a judge alongside the flight team members.

“It was great event,” he said. “The thing that I really enjoyed was seeing young folks out here having good, clean fun.”

The Flying Bobcats team is a member of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association. The collegiate aviators compete against others from all over the United States at the NIFA region III and national Safety and Flight Evaluation Conferences.