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GAMA President Greets Winners of Airplane Design Contest

  • GAMA-Students
    From left, Jonathan Smythe, Abri Badger, GAMA’s Pete Bunce, and Colton and Nathan Koester with the GAMA Cirrus SR22T on the ramp at Platteville, Wisconsin.

June 10, 2015 - On Saturday, June 6, a group of high school students from Cuba City, Wisconsin, received a congratulatory visit from Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), after being selected winners of the third GAMA/Build A Plane Aviation Design Challenge. Bunce flew into the Platteville Municipal Airport to personally meet the students, who are part of the Christian Home Educators Fellowship (CHEF) home school group.

The students, Abri Badger, Colton and Nathan Koester, and Jonathan Smythe, are now experiencing their prize; a trip to the Glasair Aviation factory in Arlington, Washington, where they’re getting hands-on aircraft building experience building a Glasair Sportsman 2+2 through the company’s Two Weeks to Taxi program.

According to team coach Tom Smythe, EAA 664072, they expect to see the airplane taxi by the end of the session (June 19) and that it could even make a first flight before they leave.

The design challenge aims to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) knowledge in high schools. More than 70 schools in 31 states entered the competition, as the teams used “Fly to Learn” curricula and training to learn the fundamentals of aerospace engineering and flight. Software powered by X-Plane was used to apply what they learned to modify and fly a virtual Glasair Sportsman airplane.

Teams were scored on payload, fuel burn, and flight time. They each also submitted a one-page essay about how the competition increased their knowledge of STEM. “The GAMA competition has taught us the importance of teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking,” the CHEF team wrote. “We learned a great deal about STEM, how to test our aircraft consistently, and how to make very finite changes to our plane to get better results. The competition has been an excellent learning experience for us!”

In Platteville, Bunce provided extended Young Eagles flights, two at a time, in the GAMA Cirrus SR22T. Flights included a stop at a local airport to allow each a time in the right seat, to which the GAMA president remarked he was flying with “naturals.” Each received a Young Eagles logbook, plus can now take advantage of the other benefits in the Young Eagles Flight Plan program, including access to Sporty’s online Learn to Fly Course.

Along with their hands-on experience at Glasair, the students were scheduled to tour the Boeing facility, visit the flightline at Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport, and take in the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Tom Smythe added that the team members all want to attend EAA AirVenture Oshkosh next month, including his son, Jonathan. “He has been to Oshkosh every year since he was born except one,” he said. “We’ve always come to Oshkosh for a few days on our summer vacation.”

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