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New Pilot Solos in RV-12 He Helped Build

January 10, 2013 - Austin Malcomb, EAA 1044354, fulfilled a dream last Friday, January 4, when he soloed on his 16th birthday at North Vernon Municipal Airport (OVO). While soloing on one's first eligible day is not that unusual, the airplane Austin flew certainly was; it's an RV-12, N901EN, dubbed Eagle's Nest One, built mostly in the engineering classroom of Jennings County High School, North Vernon, Indiana.

Austin is one of the 16 students who worked on the plane, with a core group of 10 completing it in mid-July. The RV-12 first flew on July 16, 2012, and Austin's father, Jeff Malcomb, EAA 680359, flew it to Oshkosh. Austin's grandfather, Howard Malcomb, EAA 292916, was also a project mentor helping guide the students through the build. All are members of EAA Chapter 1328 based at OVO.

Eagle's Nest Projects was founded in September 2010 by Bob Kelly, EAA 666953, to create a program where students begin and complete aircraft building projects in schools. With five active projects (including Eagle's Nest One) and more pending around the country, Eagle's Nest Projects is starting to really take off.

"I know there's a lot more interest in flying than there appears to be, from what I've seen through Eagle Flights Projects," he said. "I am pleasantly surprised by all the interest."

Graduates of the program, like Austin Malcomb, are also eligible for free pilot training for a sport pilot certificate, made possible by a cadre of volunteers and sponsorships. In the case of Eagle's Nest One, Chapter 1328 has been very involved providing skills mentors, CFIs, and other support. Kelly says six of the kids involved in building Eagle's Nest One will earn pilot certificates.

"Anyone who stays with the program to completion of the airplane is eligible for the flight training in that airplane for a sport pilot certificate," Kelly said. The only other requirement for kids to be eligible for pilot training is attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, where participants camp as a group in Camp Scholler. 

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