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Dreams Take Wing

Maine teenager Josh Wardwell is working hard on his future in the driveway of his home, building a RagWing airplane that he hopes to fly from Oxford County Regional Airport someday. Josh, 14, received the plane kit from his grandfather about a year ago, but it came with no plans, so the teenager used $75 earned from lawn mowing and other chores to track down the plans from designer Roger Mann and begin building the plane. His mother, Stephanie, says that Josh "has a passion for aviation," and that his effort to build the plane has become all-consuming, with Josh sometimes spending time sitting in the cockpit dreaming of the day he will be in the air. "We couldn't get him out of there. He ate lunch in there a few times," says Stephanie. The teenager needs to raise $3,000 to complete the plane's skin and instrument panel, on top of the cost of an adapted snowmobile engine to power it. The plane is considered an experimental glider and so a pilot's license is not needed to fly it, but Josh intends to get his pilot's license before flying it anyway. He has also taken an interest in the Civil Air Patrol, which he learned about on the Internet and quickly became devoted to after his first meeting, even getting his shoulder-length hair cut short to take part. "He's the leader. He went right from airman up to airman third class and cadet commander," says Civil Air Patrol 1st Lt. Mary Story-King of the 77th Composite Squadron.  "He took over." Josh says his hero is Patty Wagstaff, the first woman to be named U.S. Aerobatic champion, who he met at an air show. "I want to join the Air Force. But I want to be a stunt pilot too."

May 4, 2009

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