How do you build an airplane from scratch?
You put it together carefully and over a long period of time, according to a group of teens and adults constructing a small plane in a hangar at Brighton Airport, 8664 Hyne Road in Brighton Township.
The teens, some of their parents and mentors with experience building planes are roughly six months into building a RV-12 light-sport aircraft. It is a “kit” plane, which is sold by Van’s Aircraft. The kit includes all the parts and detailed step-by-step instructions. Their guess is that it will take them a year total.
The pressure is on to build it safe to fly.
“Our plan is that people who are helping to build it will eventually at least get to ride in it. Hopefully, some will be able to take flight instruction in it,” hangar owner and BrightonBuildAPlane coordinator Jack Haviland said.
“There are jokes (that) we hope we put it together right,” Haviland said. “But these are safe airplanes. They are constructed very strongly.”
He said a Federal Aviation Administration official would inspect it first, and “before you can take any passengers, you have to fly the airplane for a certain number of hours to make sure all the systems work correctly.”
The local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association No. 384 is sponsoring BrightonBuildAPlane supported by money Haviland put up.
“It’s our project to give kids and adults who may have an interest in aviation a chance to see what it’s like to build a plane and get them involved without them having to spend a lot of money (themselves),” Haviland said.
Patrick Rosso, 15, of Milford, comes to the hangar twice a week — on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings — with his dad, Bill Rosso, “to learn how to use tools and my way around a workshop,” he said.
“We’re working on the wings, and (other) guys are working on the skins for them,” Bill Rosso said. “We are getting close to putting those together.”
The tail section is already done.
The cockpit and front section will come next.
In addition to putting together the inner structure and skins to cover it — this particular plane is mostly aluminum — the group will also install things like control instruments, electrical wiring and lights.
Project mentor Ralph Hookana said “riveting” parts together is probably the largest task.
“You have to deburr the edges. Holes in this kit are already punched and the skin covering that goes over it has matching holes that line up,” Hookana said.
Lucas Ambler, 16, of Brighton, said he is “heavily” interested in aviation and is considering going into the U.S. Air Force or Navy.
“Before I came in here, I would not have been able to identify a lot of the parts. Now, I can dissect the airplane we’re building and tell you every single part, what it does and what it’s for,” Ambler said.
The Livingston Daily recently reported how, for his final Eagle Scout project, Jack Parzuchowski designed and built a model-rocket launch pad near the small airfield where the Hamburg Flyers Radio Control Club meets to fly model airplanes at Manly W. Bennett Memorial Park in Hamburg Township. His interest in pursuing aviation led him to join the BrightonBuildAPlane group.
Alek Wisinski, 13, of Brighton, said he was more interested in learning how to build a plane than fly it.
“It teaches basic math. We’re doing fractions to figure out measurements,” said Wisinski, Haviland’s grandson.
Collin Burton, 13, of Genoa Township, plans to fly planes as a hobby. He would follow in the footsteps of his father, Jason, who has his private pilot’s license.
Building a plane is right up his alley because “I’m very mechanical,” he said. “I have hobby-grade remote-controlled cars, and I’m always taking them apart and doing stuff to them.”
Keith Walker, a board member of the Brighton Airport Association, said building the plane is only “a piece of it.”
“We take several of them up for flights in our own airplanes to give them a taste of what the controls are like and teach them how an airplane works. We have speakers come in … to talk about careers,” he said.
“This gives them a good insight into what it’s all about,” he said.
For more information on BrightonBuildAPlane and how to get involved, visit https://sites.google.com/site/brightonbuildaplane