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College students operate the new Marine Corps AH-1Z flight simulator during the 36 Annual Aerospace Conference and Career Fair at the University of North Dakota, April 20, 2017. According to the university’s website, SAMA invites prominent individuals from across the nation and from a variety of disciplines to join the students on campus and share their invaluable perspectives. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jennifer Webster/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Jennifer Webster

College students "fly" military aircraft

26 Apr 2017 | Sgt. Jennifer Webster 9th Marine Corps District

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Marine Corps brought realistic flying opportunities to the University of North Dakota April 20-21, 2017.

Through the Marine Corps Flight Orientation Program, or MCFOP, Marines from 9th Marine Corps District and Recruiting Station Twin Cities’ Officer Selection Office in Fargo set up flight simulators at the university’s Student Aviation Management Association’s 36th Annual Aerospace Conference and Career Fair to give students a taste of Marine Corps aviation. The association annually invites prominent individuals from across the nation from a variety of disciplines to join the students on campus to share their invaluable perspectives, according to the university’s website. The Marine Corps made their appearance with the new F-35, F/A-18 Hornet and AH-1Z Viper flight simulators.


“The Marines stand out in a crowd,” said Kent Lovelace, a professor of aviation and director of aviation industry relations at the University of North Dakota’s Department of Aviation. “They showed up with state-of-the-art flight simulators and wowed everyone.”

While the annual aviation conference is dubbed the largest in the region with representatives from all major U.S. airlines recruiting commercial pilots, the Marine Corps clearly stood apart from the rest with their simulators.


“If you look around you see mostly static displays and booths,” said Capt. Christopher Cory, the officer selection officer for Officer Selection Team Fargo, Recruiting Station Twin Cities. “The Marines bringing the flight simulators brought a more dynamic presentation of Marine aviation, which really garnered the attention of college students who are looking to fly.”

As the officer selection officer, Cory’s mission is to procure quality college students who want to serve as Marine Corps officers.


“I get a lot of ‘what’s in it for me?’ ‘I want to fly’ ‘I want to do this’ and it’s a lot of ‘I-I-I,’” said Cory. “The conversation naturally turns to me telling them that the Marine Officer Program is a lot more than just flying, it’s first and foremost about leadership.” 


To some college students, this was their first time interacting with Marines.

“I knew who the [Marines] were like I’d seen them on TV and stuff like that, but had never seen them in person,” said Logan Ellis, an aviation student at the University of North Dakota. “I learned a lot about them and their programs by using their pretty cool simulators and just interacting with them.”

For more information regarding the Marine Aviation Program visit

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