Visiting students see planes they built fly

  • HBJ staff
  • Wednesday, July 10, 2013 4:04pm

ARLINGTON — Two groups of high school students completed the Two Weeks to Taxi program at Glasair’s small airplane factory on time.

Students built two examples of the Glasair Sportsman and watched as each one was fired up, taxied and then flown on its maiden test flight. It was the first time any of the kids had been involved in building airplanes.

“It was a remarkable experience for everyone involved,” said Peter Bunce, CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in Washington, D.C. Bunce was in Arlington and worked side by side with the students. “They were great to work with. The kids were focused, hard-working and enthusiastic. They were involved in every aspect of the build, and mastered tasks such as bucking rivets, installing windows, connecting the panel, wiring the engine and linking the controls. There was no part of it they couldn’t handle. It was a challenge keeping up with them.”

The program was co-sponsored by BuildAPlane.org.

The two girls and six boys came from high schools in Michigan and Minnesota. To be selected for the program, the teams had to submit an aircraft design to a panel of judges selected by GAMA. As winners, they were flown to Seattle and stayed in an Arlington motel for the two weeks. Students and their chaperones took side trips to the Boeing assembly plant in Everett, a flightline ramp tour at SeaTac airport and the Seattle Museum of Flight.

During the construction process, they took flights in a Glasair Sportsman aircraft, a surprise flight to Lake Goodwin in a Sportsman float plane piloted by Glasair customer Everett Mellish, and a gullwing Stinson piloted by the president of Boeing Business Jets.

The plan is to complete the Phase One flight testing and then fly the two Sportsmen to Oshkosh, Wisc., where the students will be reunited with both planes at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture, which runs July 29 through Aug. 4.