June 28, 2013
By Jill W. Tallman
The first of two Experimental aircraft built by high school students over the past two weeks in Arlington, Wash., had a successful taxi test on June 27.
The Glasair Sportsman, one of two being assembled at the Glasair Aviation facility at Arlington Airport, roared to life under drizzly skies amid cheers and high-fives from the teenagers who have worked long days since arriving here on June 16.
The students, enrolled at high schools in Canby, Minn., and Saline, Mich., were winners of a national aviation design competition sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Build A Plane. The students won an all-expenses-paid two-week trip to Arlington to assemble two four-place aircraft, which are scheduled to be on display at EAA AirVenture 2013. Since arriving in Arlington, they have participated in virtually every aspect of the construction process under the supervision of Glasair staff.
“We taxied her, and she fired right up like a champ,” GAMA CEO and President Pete Bunce said June 27. GAMA and Build A Plane co-own the aircraft, which will be headquartered on the East Coast. Bunce has been working on the airplane alongside the high school students. He performed the first taxi.
“The beast has a heart,” Ed Redies said June 27. Redies teaches a computer-assisted design/computer-aided manufacturing pre-engineering class at Saline High School, and owns a Sportsman that he and his son assembled in Glasair’s Two Weeks to Taxi program in 2011. He said his students were “honestly excited” about the first taxi.
Saline’s team joins a group from Canby High School led by instructor Dan Lutgen. All eight of the students have been working on both airplanes, moving from task to task as needed.
An FAA inspection is scheduled for June 28, and the first airplane may make its maiden flight on June 30, Bunce said. The second airplane, which is privately owned, is awaiting its panel installation but the students hope to witness its taxi test before they return home.
Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman chronicled the first part of the GAMA/Build A Plane project for AOPA Online and the Reporting Points blog. Look for an article in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot. You also can follow the students’ progress on GAMA’s Facebook page.
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