Atlantic High students reach for the skies with aviation project
The students are in the beginning stages of making an experimental aircraft.
| 8:02 p.m. October 18, 2017
Ormond Beach Observer
Not every student can say they've helped build a plane while at school.
But that's exactly what 15 Atlantic High School students in Advanced Technology Applications class, known as the "airplane building class," are doing as part of the Technology Engineering Science and Aeronautics academy, one of nine academies at Atlantic.
In addition to Aerospace Academy Director Samantha Harrison, students are guided by several mentors who are all part of the Experimental Aircraft Association to build the Van's RV-12 experimental aircraft, a two-seat, single-engine plane designed to be built by homebuilders.
One of the mentors is Tom Kodey, who received his flying license in 1969, and has built this aircraft before.
"This is an opportunity for kids to come together and learn about the things that go into building an airplane," Kodey said. "It's just a wonderful opportunity for them."
A two-year journey
Still, the path to being able to build a plane wasn't easy.
When Harrison took on her role as director, she began by asking the students where they wanted to go with the program and what they wanted to do.
The answer was simple: They wanted to build an airplane.
"I said, OK, I'll try," Harrison said.
Through the EAA, Harrison found out about the Eagle's Nest Projects, which provides students with an airplane kit to work on from beginning to end. A school in Orlando, as well as other schools across the U.S., were already building their own Eagle's Nest Projects planes, which meant Harrison's students had to wait.
Harrison persisted and continued to contact the Eagle's Nest Projects about her own class. Finally, two and a half years later, Harrison got the answer she'd been wanting: They would be sending her class a kit to build their very own plane.
Harrison received the kit during the summer of 2017, and the hope is to finish by the end of the year.
"It's not just a lab of building an airplane, there's still curriculum associated with it," Harrison said. "The kids spend usually three or four days in the lab."
The first to fly?
Once the plane is complete, Harrison plans to take the plane to SUN 'n FUN International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland.
Harrison and one of the mentors will be the first people to fly in the plane when it is completed. Students will also get a chance when it is fully certified. The plane will be owned by the Eagle's Nest Projects.
In the meantime, the students, like senior Skye Sobzack, faithfully continue to work together to build their plane.
"I'm learning a lot of new stuff about building an airplane. I know a lot about flying but not about the actually building," Sobzack said. "It's interesting to see the behind-the-scenes."