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Wednesday, October 8, 2003
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Ohio University to host regional flight safety conference

ATHENS, Ohio -- Student aviators from six schools will compete in regional college flight safety conference Oct. 14-18. The conference, hosted by Ohio University Department of Aviation in the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, will feature competitions in landing, navigation, and flight simulation.

Teams will compete in flying and ground-based events. The top three teams will move on to compete with 30 other flight teams during the national NIFA conference in the spring.

Flying competitions include two precision landing events, cross-country navigation, and a message-drop event in which competitors drop an object on a target from a low altitude. Ground competitions include simulator flying, an aircraft preflight inspection, an air regulation test, a manual flight computer accuracy test, and an aircraft recognition presentation. Contestants also will be interviewed by a NIFA safety officer and will give presentations on how their flight programs promote safety.

Ohio University's Flying Bobcat team will compete, as well as teams from Kent State University, Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati, and Andrews (Mich.) University and Western Michigan University.

Up to 200 students, coaches, judges, staff, and parents are expected to attend the 2003 Region III National Intercollegiate Flying Association Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference (NIFA SAFECON). The competition will take place daily at the Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport.

Formed in 1940 by Ohio University flight students, the Flying Bobcats have been competing in NIFA competitions since the mid-'60s. This year's competitors are Chris Buehler, Brian Buescher, David Fankhauser, Matt Friesner, Johann Gebauer, Chad Lutz, Rob McCoy, Shannon Pereira, Tiffany Perl, Steven Porter, Jeff Rambadt, Kurt Schoenhals, Paige Schroeder, Karrie Shank, and Marcie Zook. They will be coached by Shaun Elliott, Nathan Hines, Adam "Ben" Klein and Kristin Shoemaker and faculty adviser Deak Arch.

Most of the competition's judges are current airline, regional and corporate pilots or area aviation industry representatives.

"The judges of this competition ? many of whom are Ohio University alumni ? are really who make it happen," said Juan Merkt, chair of the Russ College's Department of Aviation at Ohio University. "They volunteer their time and expertise to help these collegiate aviators compete safely while learning."

Competition sponsors are Carr Engineering, Inc./SkyScheduler; Christiansen Aviation, Inc.; David Clark, Inc.; Flight Safety International; Frasca International, Inc.; Pepsi Cola, Inc.; and Sporty's.

Training pilots since 1939, the Russ College's Department of Aviation offers bachelor's degrees in flight education or aviation management, or an associate's degree in aviation technology. Flight education students begin flight training their first year in the program and earn their flight instructor and commercial pilot certification in addition to their bachelor's degree.

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

Note to news directors: To arrange for television coverage of the competitions, contact Russ College Director of External Relations Colleen Girton at (740) 593-1488 or Department of Aviation Chair Juan Merkt at (740) 597-2626

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