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ND offers aviation elective course

Ryan Sydlik | Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Posters publicizing Fundamentals of Aviation – a relatively unknown course offered through the Notre Dame Pilot Initiative – read “Fly Like a Champion Today” and encourage students to learn to fly for elective credit.

Though the University first offered a ground aviation course in 1973, the course ended in 1977 because no professor remained to teach it.

But in recent years, the course has returned, thanks to the efforts of former Notre Dame students and currently licensed pilots Joe Friel, Jeff Newcamp and Brian McCarthy.

While at Notre Dame, the men taught the undergraduate course, under the guidance of Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) professor Col. Michael Zenk.

The course is currently taught by Dillon senior Lauren Centioli.

“I got involved my freshman year when I saw the posters for NDPI.” Centioli said. “Since [Friel] was graduating that year, the course would have ceased to exist if I had not come around. He asked me if would teach it and I said yes.”

Centioli, a certified commercial pilot, flight instructor and ground instructor, said the program is an advanced ground school.

“Other programs teach you just what you need to know to pass the private pilot’s exam,” he said. “This class goes above and beyond that. The scope is beyond that of simply passing the FAA test.”

The purpose of the course is to fulfill one of the major requirements for a pilot’s license, Centioli said. With Fundamentals of Aviation being counted as ground school, a student is able to continue to flight school and get his or her license.

“We cover everything needed for a private pilot’s license,” Centioli said.

Topics covered in the course include aerodynamics, systems, performance, weight and balance, navigation, flight planning, emergencies, weather, airports, airspace and communication, among others, Centioli said.

There are currently 18 students registered for the course in the spring – nearly triple the number who had enrolled in the fall. Centioli said students should not be deterred from enrolling, as there is room for 30 students.

“Most people do not think of an ROTC class as an elective,” he said.

Though the ROTC runs the course, it is intended for civilians. Students are not required to be in the armed forces to take it.

“If more people knew people about the class, more people would take it,” Centioli said. “The supply is there to meet the demand.”

A ground school course taken elsewhere runs between 200 to 400 dollars. With the Notre Dame Pilot Initiative, the cost is already covered by tuition.

Fundamentals of Aviation also features guest speakers, such as Sam Pavel, President of Experimental Aircraft Association in Elkhart; Lowell Farrand, one of the most seasoned pilots in the United States and the first to fly a powered parachute; Richard Levy, a Boeing 777 captain; and Col. Mel DeMar, a former Marine One pilot who served two tours in which he transported now-former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

In addition to visits by guests, the students also get to take a trip to the South Bend Regional Airport to see the control tower and static aircraft displays.

For those interested in the course, AS 30098 is offered Monday and Wednesday from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m.