November 1, 2010
By Jill W. Tallman
Talkeetna, Alaska—population 800—has turned out in force to support a project in which local high school students will combine classroom learning with hands-on work to refurbish a Piper Cherokee Six.
The students are working on the project through the nonprofit education organization Build a Plane.
“Once we announced we were going to start a Build a Plane project, we began getting an amazing number of offers” from businesses and residents alike, said Rebecca Fisher, a Talkeetna resident and Alaska Airlines pilot. K2 Aviation, a local bush flying service, created two full-time paid internships for Build a Plane students. Talkeetna Aero Services committed to hire a student for a paid full-time summer job, and also began offering free motivational flights to Denali and Mount McKinley. Talkeetna Air created a $2,500 scholarship for students who pursue postsecondary education or training. Talkeetna Aero offered free flights for interested students and their parents. Flight businesses Above Alaska and Alaska Floats and Skis also donated free introductory flight lessons.
Other contributions include $500 from the local chapter of The Ninety-Nines to purchase a private pilot ground school course for the local library, donations of hardware supplies needed for the restoration project, and use of a hangar to house the project.
“I’m very proud of what our little town has done to support these kids,” Fisher said. “Aviation is a big part of who we are here in Alaska and I think people see this Build a Plane project as an opportunity to give back to the community.”
Build a Plane has three other programs in Alaska—two in the villages of Hooper Bay and Chevak, and another in Anchorage.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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Aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin stirred the pot with an Oct. 15 announcement that compact fusion could power vehicles, even aircraft, within a decade. Skeptics were quick to speak up, while Lockheed filed for patents and hopes to find partners in government, academia, and industry.
Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, brought Indiana aviation community members up to date on the association’s initiatives.
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