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July 30, 2013
By Jill W. Tallman
Seven of the eight teenagers who built two taildraggers over a span of two weeks in June were reunited with “their” airplanes this week at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
The teens were winners of a contest sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Build a Plane. Students from high schools in Saline, Mich., and Canby, Minn., spent two weeks at the Glasair Aircraft facility in Arlington, Wash., assembling two Glasair Sportsman aircraft. The airplanes taxied and flew for the first time in late June.
Seven of the eight students traveled to AirVenture to spend a week at the show promoting the GAMA/Build a Plane project. Adhering to a schedule as packed as that of any airshow performer, they stopped at the GAMA/Build a Plane exhibit on July 29 to visit briefly with “their” airplanes. One is jointly owned by GAMA and Build a Plane; the other is owned by Jeppesen CEO Mark Van Tine, who worked on his Glasair alongside the GAMA/Build a Plane contest winners.
Brandon Stripling of Canby said watching the completed airplanes taxi and then fly was “crazy. Your work went into it and then you get to see it in action.”
“We didn’t think it would be flying,” Canby student Wyatt Johansen said, referring to the fact that it was a mere two weeks’ time between the first day of the build and the day the Glasair took flight.
Stripling, Johansen, and their teammates Leah Schmitt and John DesLauriers got an added bonus: an opportunity to fly one of the airplanes they helped to build. Van Tine stopped in Canby on his way to AirVenture, and put each of the students in the right seat.
“It was amazing to be flying in the airplane I built,” Schmitt said. “A year ago, I never thought this would happen.”
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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