may 14, 2003

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TCC Flying Bulls Club
(l to r) Andrew Ryerson (in red bull costume), pilot, Joe Parli, assistant professor of chemistry, TCC, Connie Hebert, science club advisor, and Joyce Daugherty, science club member, with the TCC entry in Flugtag Texas.

New TCC science club enters Flugtag Texas

In existance for less than six months and featuring a retired designer and a former Marine, Tulsa Community College (TCC) Science Club, nicknamed "TCC Flying Bulls," entered Red Bull Flugtag ("flying day" in German) Texas--a competition among hand-made, human-powered, flying machines, April 26, in Austin.

Intrigued by the outrageous combination of gravity and aerodynamics with a sense of humor and adventure, TCC students built a glider (a Red Bull drink can replica with a 28-foot wing span), launched it off a 30-foot high ramp extending out from Auditorium Shores over Town Lake in downtown Austin, and watched it fly about 30 feet over the lake. The pilot, Andrew Ryerson, former Marine and member of Phi Theta Kappa Oklahoma All-Academic Team, wore a body mask resembling a red bull.

From more than 100 applicants, 45 teams were selected for Flugtag Texas. TCC was one of only five all-student groups and the only group from a community college. TCC was one of only two teams from outside Texas and the only entry from Oklahoma.

Instrumental in designing the TCC entry was J.R. Petrie, 62, elementary education major who wants to teach science in public school and retired, free-lance designer for NASA and U.S. Department of Defense who worked at Marshall Space Flight Center.

Connie Hebert, Ph. D., science club advisor, was hired by TCC in December, 2002 and has a research background in nuclear cardiology, biomedical science, and renal cellular transport--not exactly "the stuff that gliders are made of." However, she was very committed to the flugtag entry, recruited a fun, hard-working group of students to contruct the glider, and believed that a flugtag entry could inspire, entertain, and educate the newly organized science club.

Among the unusual entries TCC faced was a polka-dotted, guitar-shaped, memorial to Randy Rhodes (guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne); a craft with a rotating wing attached to a fuselage shaped like a 1932 Ford Coupe; and a trebuchet (combination slingshot and catapult used to destroy castles in the Middle Ages) that propelled a pilot dressed as Wile E. Coyote. Entries were also shaped like an armadillo, dragon, lemming, lawn mower, sombrero, Swingline stapler, and teacup.

TCC students competed against advertising executives, commercial artists, martial artists, mortgage bankers, musicians, retired military personnel, and employees from Amy's Ice Cream, America West Airlines, and Blisterin' Hombre Salsa.

The first flugtag was held in Austria, 1991. Last year, Red Bull Flugtag debuted in America before 20,000 spectators in San Francisco. This year Red Bull is sponsoring six flugtags across the United States--including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Story contact: Demetrius Bereolos, Media Relations Specialist, TCC, 918.595.7955