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Aeronautic design competition this weekend
Student creations to soar at Eagles Beak
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Forsyth County News

If you’re going

* What: Aero Design East 2014

* When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

* Where: Georgia Model Aviators’ airfield, 8250 Old Federal Road

* Cost: Free

FORSYTH COUNTY — College students from as far away as India, Bangladesh and Egypt will be spending this weekend in Forsyth County.

The Georgia Model Aviators’ airfield in northwest Forsyth has again been tapped as the host site of the Aero Design East competition.

While it moved to Fort Worth, Texas, last year, Forsyth was the host county in 2012.

The competition gives teams of college engineering students from around the world a chance to show off their aeronautic design, construction and performance skills as they build and fly different types of complicated model aircraft.

Today, the students will be housed at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, where they will show designs and give oral presentations on their aircraft to volunteer judges.

The aircraft will also be inspected for safety, said David Roberts, a member of Georgia Model Aviators and organizer of the competition.

“Each one of the aircraft have to pass a rigorous inspection checklist to make sure that the airplane is air-worthy and so that something doesn’t fall off in midflight and cause it to crash because that’s a safety thing,” Roberts said.

“The volunteers want to make sure that the students’ planes have the greatest potential to compete.”

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, the students will get to take their aircraft to the skies at the airfield, located on the Eagle’s Beak county park site off Old Federal Road.

Roberts said the students will be challenged with several different tasks during the Saturday and Sunday events, which are free and open to the public.

“We have special areas for spectators to watch and see exactly what’s happening,” Roberts said. “We encourage the public to come and hope we’ll have a great turnout.

“They’re going to see students from other lands and be able to interact with them and ask questions, so the public is very welcome.”

Roberts said one of the unique challenges of presenting the event was finding a food vendor that could satisfy all the tastes and diets of the global teams.

“We needed to have a full menu, which included a vegan diet, a vegetarian diet and a meat-eating diet,” said Roberts, noting a food truck will be serving a wide range of options Saturday and Sunday.

But there will also be a chance for the students to sample some American treats.

“We’ll also have a concession stand where they can get a protein bar, an orange or some chips or candy,” he said. “We figured if they’ve come all the way from India or Egypt, we want them to have a chance to at least have some American candy or chips or something.”

Following Sunday’s competition, the Georgia Model Aviators will present an airshow for the students and public from noon to about 1 p.m.

“These kids are coming from all parts of the world so they may have never seen a giant-scale turbine jet fly, they may have never seen a helicopter fly upside in crazy acrobatic maneuvers … or a 12-foot wing span custom-built aircraft or an airplane built from scratch that’s a perfect replica.”

An awards presentation, in which about 40 different honors will be given out, will be held after the airshow.

Besides trophies and plaques, possibly the greatest award for some of the students could be future employment, Roberts said, as representatives from Lockheed-Martin will attend to scout talent.

Roberts said he used to feel bad about all the other students who would not be chosen by Lockheed, but then had a realization about the event.

“It is about the best senior project that an aeronautics student could have,” he said. “This is a character-building exercise in that they’re going to build an aircraft from scratch out of their own design theories … and go fly it.”