Day One and the work is already well underway for this year’s crew of Build-A-Plane builders. Struts have been deburred, brake fluid reservoirs installed, parts twisted this way, things screwed in that way. Everyone has a job and everyone is game.
You’ll remember that Build-A-Plane is the big reward for the high school team that wins the General Aviation Manufacturing Association’s (GAMA) Aviation Design Challenge. For two weeks four students, their teacher/coach and a chaperon join with a Glasair TWTT customer and Glasair assembly technicians to assemble a Sportsman to the point it receives its FAA airworthiness certificate.
This year 93 high schools competed in the Aviation Design Challenge. The winning team hails from Olney, Texas. The team comprises students Amber McCutcheon, Michael Gomez, Kodee Scott and Bryant Castro, all recent graduates of Olney High School. They were guided by teacher and coach Sabrina Laurent … or “Ms. Laurent” as the students still call her … who is also in Arlington helping with the build.
The builder of record is Ken Baur, who as owner of this Two Weeks to Taxi slot gets to fly the completed Sportsman home in the not-to-distant future. Ken is architectural engineer and business owner from Redding, Pennsylvania. He’ll hangar the plane in Lancaster. He is joined by his son Mike, an aeronautical engineer with 16 years experience with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. developing UAVs. Mike now works with his father in the family firm and is pursuing a masters in civil engineering. (There was no problem getting time off when dad asked for his help with the build.)
The Aviation Design Challenge is by more than a dozen leading general aviation companies with the aim of promoting STEM studies nationwide.