December 14, 2016 -Twenty-four high school students in Georgetown, Texas, are getting the opportunity to experience homebuilding firsthand thanks to the efforts of members of the local aviation community including high school teacher and pilot Dan Weyant.
“Last year, we started talking, myself and some of the neighbors … and sort of all independently decided we needed to build an airplane in the high school,” said Weyant, EAA 1100517, who teaches engineering at East View High School.
He said their motivation was the demand for pilots, mechanics, and a need to get kids interested in aviation to potentially fill those roles. As Weyant looked into the best way to approach the idea, he discovered that Project Lead the Way had an aerospace engineering class curriculum in place.
“We wanted to do something more and a little different from their standard aerospace class. So we decided we wanted to build a Van’s RV-12 as part of the program,” Weyant said. The class is taught at East View High School but once completed the RV-12 will be owned by Tango Flight, a local nonprofit started specifically to fund and support this project.
The class was opened to students at East View and Georgetown high schools, and a total of 55 students signed up for 24 available spots which Weyant said was quite the success.
The students work in groups of eight on the build and academic portions of the project as well as working on-site at Georgetown Municipal Airport.
“What we’re doing that I don’t believe anyone else in the country is doing is we’re getting the kids off campus to work with the local businesses at the Georgetown airport,” Weyant said. “Each week one of the groups of eight instead of coming to class goes out to the airport and works with local businesses.”
In the classroom, students work hands-on with the aircraft learning to pull rivets and read plans with plenty of help from mentors from local EAA Chapter 187.
“That was one of my biggest concerns going in … was where are we going to get the people to commit the time to show up that frequently,” Weyant said. “We got over 30 mentors signed up and we’re booked out over two months for every single class period.”
Weyant said the students have completed most of the tail portion of the airplane and recently received kits for the wings and although they’re behind the planned schedule, he said the students have made good progress and didn’t want to let momentum wane over the upcoming Christmas break.
“The kids actually came to me and said we want to work on it over the holidays,” Weyant said adding that a number of mentors have already signed up to assist during the break and a local restaurant is providing lunch.
The plan is to have the airplane completed by the end of the school year and use this RV-12 for community outreach to gain support for a similar project next year. Weyant said he’s also hoping to bring the airplane and a group of students to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017.
Find out more and stay up to date on the progress of the project via Tango Flight’s Facebook page.