WASHINGTON, D.C. — Students Bryant Castro, Kodee Scott, Michael Gomez and Amber McCutcheon along with teacher Sabrina Laurent — the winners of the GAMA/Build A Plane 2017 Aviation Design Challenge — will spend the next two weeks building a Glasair Sportsman airplane at Glasair Aviation in Arlington, Washington, as their prize.
The team from Olney High School in Olney, Texas, won the all-expenses-paid trip to assemble the Sportsman as part of the fifth annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) competition.
The airplane’s owner, Ken Baur, and his son, Mike, will work alongside the students to build the airplane.GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce, former Jeppesen CEO Mark Van Tine, and other staff from GAMA and Jeppesen will help oversee construction of the airplane, led by Glasair Aviation staff.
Additionally, Siemens Government Technologies CEO Barbara Humpton and a team from Click Bond will visit the build.
The Sportsman is a kit airplane that can be assembled in two weeks through Glasair’s “Two Weeks to Taxi” program.
“Over the past five years, I’ve watched talented and enthusiastic young students develop their skills and increase their confidence in just two weeks as they build an airplane,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “Not only do they learn how to build a plane, but they also learn valuable life skills in public-speaking, teamwork, and critical thinking, as well as about general aviation manufacturing professions they may not have otherwise known they could pursue. This is all made possible by our tremendous sponsors, who I cannot thank enough for their support.”
GAMA member companies are sponsoring the team’s travel, lodging, and meals.
The builder of last year’s plane, Dennis Willows, will provide the students with a tour of the University of Washington, San Juan Island, and a look at the plane built by last year’s challenge winners.
“We’re fortunate that we get to participate in several big, fun events each year, Oshkosh and SUN ‘n FUN for example, but for us the best is the two weeks we spend with the winning students who come to build a plane,” said Glasair Aviation President Nigel Mott. “Their energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and we come away better for the experience. It’s really a great program GAMA and the challenge sponsors have put together.”
The competition attracted 93 entries from high schools in 31 U.S. states plus Washington, DC. The schools used Fly to Learn curricula and training, including software powered by X-Plane, to learn the basics of aerodynamic engineering. They then applied those principles to modify and fly a virtual Cessna 172SP from one airport to another, delivering a maximum payload in the least amount of time while burning the lowest amount of fuel.
Judges from GAMA’s engineering team selected the winning school based on their score from the software, a summary of modifications each team made to the virtual airplane, a checklist of steps involved in the demonstration flight, and three videos submitted throughout the competition, culminating in the students sharing what they learned.
The 2017 Aviation Design Challenge sponsoring companies are Air Tractor, BBA Aviation, Bose Corporation, Click Bond, Embraer, Garmin International, Glasair Aviation, Gulfstream Aerospace, Jeppesen, Jet Aviation, JSSI, Redbird Flight Simulations, Siemens, Textron Aviation and Wipaire.