North Texas Daily

Aviation fraternity takes students up in the air

Aviation fraternity takes students up in the air

March 05
00:43 2013

Courtney Garza

Staff Writer


Five biplanes sat waiting as 15 curious and adventurous students grilled burgers and hot dogs nearby. Some ate to kill their nerves while others were impatient to climb in the cockpit. The skies were clear and the engines were ready at the U.S. Aviation Academy in Denton.

On Saturday, the UNT Sailing Team and Alpha Eta Rho, the International Aviation Fraternity, hosted a day of flying to show students what the teams are about.

President of Alpha Eta Rho business undeclared junior Andrew “AJ” Smith and president of the UNT Sailing Team business entrepreneurship junior Casey Crossland were hanging out one night when they came up with an event promote the teams and raise funds.

“My goal is to get people who’ve never been in a tiny airplane to get behind the controls and fly,” Smith said. “To me, there is nothing like it. I want everyone to be able to experience it.”

The original plan was to have one adventurous day filled with flying and sailing, where $30 bought students lunch followed by a scenic flight over North Texas, as well as a chance to sail with one of the sailing team members.

But with high winds and temperatures in the low 30s, the sailing portion of the event was postponed until the weather warmed up. For the more experienced sailors in the group, high winds and low temperatures are not an issue. However, the team saw it best to postpone until a sunnier day with safer conditions for the new members.

Alpha Eta Rho was able to show off their wings as members and alumni flew newcomers almost 2,000 feet up in the air, from Decatur back to the academy. U.S. Aviation Academy program director Chris Ramey was pleased to see UNT students take an interest in learning aviation and supporting the art of the career.

“Until you experience it, you don’t know how it is,” Ramey said. “It’s nothing like driving a car or flying in an airline plane. It’s almost like being in a roller coaster.”

Both teams received positive feedback and hope to attract more students by hosting future flying and sailing events. Their members aim to raise awareness of their organizations and raise funds to keep hosting events like Saturday’s.

“The limiting factor for the sailing team is funding,” Crossland said. “We need to take advantage of the opportunities we’ve been given and continue the momentum that we’ve built. We must ensure that the resources are in place for the team when the current leaders are gone.”

The sailing team meets at 8 p.m. at the Pohl Recreation Center  in room 205 every Tuesday night, and at 3 p.m. at Lake Lewisville’s Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club every Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Alpha Eta Rho meetings are scheduled through their Facebook page.

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