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Organizers pleased with aeronautics competition
Disha Veena Giridhal, left, and Shrvthi Nayak from BMSCE in Bangalore, India, prepare their aircraft for flight. The Aero Design East 2012 competition Saturday at the Eagle’s Beak green space area featured more than 500 college students and professors. - photo by Crystal Ledford

The team with a bit of a home field advantage took high honors during a model aeronautics competition in Forsyth County.

David Roberts, one of the organizers of the Aero Design East 2012 competition, said students from the Georgia Institute of Technology took first place in one of three divisions of the contest.

The competition brought more than 500 college students and professors to Forsyth County over the weekend.

It began with formal presentations Friday at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, before shifting to the air field at the Eagles Beak green space area for flights of the team’s model airplanes on Saturday and Sunday.

The group that took first place overall traveled much farther than Georgia Tech.

“The team from China won overall,” Roberts said. “They made a plane with a 17-foot wing span and brought a second exact duplicate in case the first one crashed.”

Student teams from several other countries also competed in the contest, which was held for the first time in Forsyth County after spending several years in Marietta.

Teams from Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Poland, Turkey and Venezuela, as well as numerous squads from across the United States, were scheduled to compete.

Roberts said teams ranged in size from two to 21 members.

Disha Veena Giridhal and Shrvthi Nayak made up the smallest team, coming all the way from Bangalore, India, to compete.

“It’s so beautiful here,” Giridhal said while working on the team’s plane Saturday. “I haven’t got a chance to eat Southern food yet, but I definitely want to do that.”

Mark Trifone said his team didn’t have to make quite the journey of the international schools, but they did have a long drive.

“We drove all through the night Thursday,” said Trifone, a member of the Louisiana State University team. “And we’ve been working the whole time since we got here.”

His teammate Elizabeth Devin was proud to paint the school’s bold purple and yellow colors on their micro-class entry, in which students created the smallest of planes.

“We bring style wherever we go,” Devine said.

Roberts said “quite a few” spectators came out to enjoy the test flights Saturday and Sunday at the field in northwestern Forsyth, though not as many as he had hoped.

“But everyone who was there got a kick out of it,” he said. “And I think all the kids who were there got drawn into the world of model aviation.”

Roberts hopes the event will return to the county as some point.

“It rotates between California and Texas and an Eastern [U.S.] location, so hopefully we’ll be able to get it back in 2014 or 2015,” he said. “We got a lot of great feedback from everyone.”

Local tourism officials had projected the weekend event would have a total economic impact of more than $300,000 in Forsyth.