Arlington business Glasair Aviation helped New York students build a plane as part of a national aviation challenge from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
This is the sixth year that the association (a.k.a. GAMA) has partnered with the local business to help kids construct a plane.
The competition begins with GAMA sending software to hundreds of schools across the nation that give students a challenge of how to fly and design a plane.
“They have to modify and design the aircraft to be able to carry the most air load and that is the most fuel efficient,” said Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA.
Students have to navigate the map with a sustainable model of flying.
“Some try to come over the mountains and some try to come around it,” said Bunce.
“A couple of times folks have done it so that they only carry enough gas that the engines run out and they count on gliding it in. That’s not a repeatable formula there,” he said.
The first-place team gets to have four students, at least one of whom has to be a woman, fly to Washington state where they build a plane in two weeks at Glasair’s Arlington Airport hangar.
They start with just the fuselage (main body of the airplane) and eventually get to taxi the plane in two weeks of work.
“It opens their eyes to careers in aviation,” said Bunce.
“We had been looking ways to do the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education, not just to bring in pilots but we need people to do that maintenance and construction work in the future too,” he said, and this program provides avenues into those careers.
Each year volunteers help the students build the plane.
This year the volunteers came from the primary sponsor of this year’s program, Click Bond, a company that produces fasteners for airplanes.
“GAMA has really done something fantastic in having this aviation challenge,” said Click Bond president and CEO Karl Hutter.
“Being able to connect with the kids and the industry with this way has been awesome,” he said.
Click Bond will take the plane after the FAA certification is done.
“This will serve as an ambassador to the industry, traveling around to different trade shows and events and will hopefully be used for Young Eagles flight to get kids flying as well,” he said.
Bunce also wanted to recognize Glasair for the work they do to put on the program.
“They’ve got really the only program that I know on the planet that is the only way you could possibly do this,” he said.