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Austin Peay State University Governor’s School students surprised by helicopter landing

 

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Governor’s School for Computational Physics at Austin Peay State University (APSU) surprised the 36 high school students attending with a rare treat this week – a surprise landing of one of the school’s helicopters.

On June 5th, 2019, just before 4:00pm former Special Operations pilot Charlie Weigandt eased one of Austin Peay’s Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopters onto the Dunn Center lawn.

The Governor's School for Computational Physics students stand near one of Austin Peay State University's helicopters. (APSU)

The Governor’s School for Computational Physics students stand near one of Austin Peay State University’s helicopters. (APSU)

After the chopper’s rotors stopped, the students surrounded Weigandt. They peppered him with questions and took turns sitting behind the controls.

Kathleen Alcock, a Cleveland High School senior, surged to the front and asked first to sit at the stick.

“Because it’s cool, it’s a helicopter,” she said, before repeating, “Because it’s cool, it’s a helicopter.”

Amelia Parker, a senior at Morristown-Hamblen High School West, said when the helicopter buzzed over the lawn, it surprised her.

“Even then I didn’t expect it to land like it did,” she said.

Even in choppy winds, Weigandt – a 24-year U.S. Army veteran and founding member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell – landed the helicopter about 50 feet from the students. Weigandt is director of Austin Peay State University’s aviation sciences program.

Drones, Zip, Dip at Governors School

Michael Hunter of the Drone Club at Austin Peay State University shows off one of his racing drones to the Governor's School for Computational Physics students. (APSU)

Michael Hunter of the Drone Club at Austin Peay State University shows off one of his racing drones to the Governor’s School for Computational Physics students. (APSU)

Before Weigandt and his helicopter landed, the Gov School students already were delighted by a fleet of drones APSU’s GIS Center and the Drone Club at Austin Peay brought out.

The students piloted some of the drones and watched as Michael Hunter – who represented Austin Peay at the Collegiate Drone Racing Association nationals in April – raced his drone through a course.

“I got to put on the goggles (connected to an onboard camera) when he was doing the racing drone, and that’s not a view I’ve seen before,” Alcock said.

Students also piloted some of the drones.

“That was really cool,” Alcock said. “It had collision prevention so I didn’t crash into people, which I have a tendency to get really close to people then drop the drone, but I didn’t have that problem this time.”

What Is Governor’s School?

The state offers 11 programs to high-achieving juniors and seniors across Tennessee. Topics cover science, the arts, business, technology, humanities, international studies and teaching. The state provides scholarships to all the students to cover the costs of Governor’s School, including tuition, room and board, and food.

Austin Peay State University provides the Governor’s School for Computational Physics, which is an introduction to computational problems in physics and engineering. The school runs through June 21 and includes coding, lab work, class lectures and homework. Students earn four college credit hours by completing the three-week school.

The highlights of the school are two field trips, one to the National Space Science Technology Center and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and the other to the National Center for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“This is an opportunity, and I get college credit for it, and it’s free,” Parker said. “I’ve had so much fun, and I already have a group of friends.”

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