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High schools sought for aviation design contest

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at 6:13 p.m.

High schools across the U.S. are invited to compete in an aviation design contest that is intended to encourage aviation and aerospace education.

The winning high school will receive an all-expenses-paid two-week trip in June for four students, one teacher and one chaperone to help build a Glasair Sportsman four-seat airplane through Glasair Aviation, a general aviation kit aircraft manufacturer.

The winning team will take part in Glasair’s Two Weeks to Taxi program at its facilities in Arlington, Wash.

During those two weeks, the students will assemble the airplane, learn about its systems and components, fire up the plane’s engine and avionics and taxi and perform a run-up, according to Glasair’s website.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Build a Plane are partnering to offer the program to promote science, technology, engineering and math education.

Schools that take part will receive complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which comes with flight simulation software provided by X-Plane.

Classroom teachers will guide students through the science of flight and airplane design, completing the curricula in about six weeks in the classroom or four weeks in an accelerated program, according to GAMA.

Each high school will apply what its students have learned by modifying the design of a Glasair Sportsman airplane while flying a specific mission profile, the trade group said.

The schools will then compete in a virtual fly-off and will be scored on aerodynamics and performance parameters.

Judges from GAMA will select the winning school.

So far, no high schools in Wichita or Kansas have signed up, said GAMA spokeswoman Mary Lynn Rynkiewicz.

“We would love to have ... schools from Kansas and Wichita participate, (especially) since it’s such a strong aviation area,” Rynkiewicz said.

GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce said he’s looking forward to a second year of the competition.

“Having worked side by side with the students for two weeks last summer and seen how the competition not only improved their skill sets but convinced almost all of them to enter the aviation field, I’m thrilled to be going back to our wonderful hosts at Glasair for another build in 2014,” Bunce said in a statement.

GAMA member companies will provide the funding for equipment and supplies, and Glasair will donate two weeks of staff time to support the airplane’s assembly. The winning team will receive round-trip airfare, hotels, meals and field trips to nearby aviation sites.

Schools may register until Feb. 14 at http://www.gama.aero/advocacy/aviation-education/stem. Space is limited to the first 100 schools.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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