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MTSU aerospace students’ paper planes take flight ...

MTSU aerospace students’ paper planes take flight in Red Bull event [+VIDEO]

They came in a variety of shapes, handmade from the original size — an 8½ x 11-inch piece of white copy paper.

They were tossed about the Donald McDonald Hangar at MTSU’s Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro Airport Thursday, March 3, by mostly Aerospace Department students. Some of these flying pieces of paper did loops; some had great take-offs and solid landings; others sputtered, with fast, not-so-gentle finishes.

Two MTSU aerospace students use the wing of one of the university's Diamond aircraft flight training planes on the tarmac to create paper airplanes to compete in the Red Bull Paper Wings local qualifying event Thursday, March 3, at the MTSU Flight Operations Center. More than 100 students competed. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Two MTSU aerospace students use the wing of one of the university’s Diamond aircraft flight training planes on the tarmac to create paper airplanes to compete in the Red Bull Paper Wings local qualifying event Thursday, March 3, at the MTSU Flight Operations Center. More than 100 students competed. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

More than 100 MTSU students gave it their best heave-ho, aiming to be the longest (air time) and farthest throws in the Red Bull Paper Wings MTSU/Murfreesboro qualifier — with a berth in the 5-hour Energy drink’s regional Paper Wings event at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on the line.

MTSU aerospace logoRed Bull Paper Wings is an annual event, marketed as the world’s largest paper plane championship.

With free food and drink and loud, “vibe” music originating from Dolly (named for Tennessee native Dolly Parton) — one of six massive Red Bull event vehicles in various regions of the country — students prepared their planes for high-flying (and in many cases low-flying) finishes.

Senior David Parrott (distance) of Blythewood, South Carolina, and sophomore Abanoub Hanna (air time) of Murfreesboro will be heading to Huntsville for the April 16 regional, with the two winners there advancing to the International Paper Wings in Austria in May. Both are aerospace professional flight majors.

Possibly the oddest-looking — in an unidentified flying object category — entry was the oval/round paper plane flown by Nathan Arend, a junior pro pilot major from Franklin, Tennessee. It defied all apparent odds by traveling 45 feet. After being eliminated early, he said he planned “to go fishing at the Stones River, probably under a bridge.”

Jesyca Dennis, 19, right, an MTSU freshman aerospace professional pilot major, from Dunlap, Tennessee, creates one of four paper airplanes she made for the Red Bull Paper Wings local qualifying event Thursday, March 3, in the Flight Operation Center's Donald McDonald Hangar at Murfreesboro Airport. Participants' other entries are shown on the table. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Jesyca Dennis, 19, right, an MTSU freshman aerospace professional pilot major, from Dunlap, Tennessee, creates one of four paper airplanes she made for the Red Bull Paper Wings local qualifying event Thursday, March 3, in the Flight Operation Center’s Donald McDonald Hangar at Murfreesboro Airport. Participants’ other entries are shown on the table. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Just shy of the prize

Sophomore Zach Allen of Gallatin, Tennessee, and freshman Jesyca Dennis of Dunlap, Tennessee, both pro flight majors, narrowly missed out on the distance and air time, respectively.

For more than 90 minutes, Allen’s toss of 76 feet stood the test. “I had high hopes, but somebody went past me,” he said.

Dennis believes she barely missed making the top five in total distance and may have finished second in air time. Altogether, she made four paper planes, all of them using her cell phone to look up “paper airplanes that fly far,” she said. “I figured somebody else would beat me, so I did not spend much time trying.”

Rather than heading to the beach for spring break (March 7-12), Allen and Dennis plan to remain in Murfreesboro, getting in flights — “and get in written tests, just to stay ahead,” said Allen, who works in MTSU flight dispatch.

An MTSU aerospace student sends his entry airborne in the Red Bull Paper Wings local qualifier Thursday, March 3, in the university Flight Operations Center's Donald McDonald Hangar at Murfreesboro Airport. Red Bull markets the annual event as the world’s largest paper plane championship. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

An MTSU aerospace student sends his entry airborne in the Red Bull Paper Wings local qualifier Thursday, March 3, in the university Flight Operations Center’s Donald McDonald Hangar at Murfreesboro Airport. Red Bull markets the annual event as the world’s largest paper plane championship. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

A cool, fun event

Dr. Chaminda Prelis, chair, Department of Aerospace

Dr. Chaminda Prelis

First-year Aerospace Department chair Chaminda Prelis and some faculty and staff watched the students enjoy time away from the rigors of studies.

“It’s been, actually, a really great event,” Prelis said. “Red Bull had specifically asked to come back again. The students really enjoy it. It’s a great way for them to not only have some fun and relax after studying — and we’re at midterms right now — so this is a good stress-relief as well.

“It’s also an opportunity for them to test some of their skills they’ve learned in the classroom. I’ve actually seen some of the students using knowledge they’ve learned in building these paper airplanes.”

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Red Bull Paper Wings MTSU student participants make their plans and enjoy the food and drinks provided Thursday, March 3, at the Donald McDonald Hangar, part of the MTSU Department of Aerospace Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro Airport. The hangar was alive with students making paper planes for the Paper Wings local qualifier. Senior David Parrott (distance) and sophomore Abanoub Hanna (air time) winning and earn berths at the regional April 16 in Huntsville, Ala. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Red Bull Paper Wings MTSU student participants make their plans and enjoy the food and drinks provided Thursday, March 3, at the Donald McDonald Hangar, part of the MTSU Department of Aerospace Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro Airport. The hangar was alive with students making paper planes for the Paper Wings local qualifier. Senior David Parrott (distance) and sophomore Abanoub Hanna (air time) winning and earn berths at the regional April 16 in Huntsville, Ala. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

With the company’s airplane in the foreground, Kevin Coleman, Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class pilot, discusses the upcoming Paper Wings qualifying event and fields questions from MTSU students Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the Donald McDonald Hangar at aerospace’s Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro Airport. All MTSU students are eligible to register for the Paper Wings event, to begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 3. (Photo: Andy Heidt)

With the company’s airplane in the foreground, Kevin Coleman, Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class pilot, discusses the upcoming Paper Wings qualifying event and fields questions from MTSU students Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the Donald McDonald Hangar at aerospace’s Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro Airport.(Photo: Andy Heidt)


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