Posts Tagged ‘Two Weeks to Taxi’

The NHL, aviation…or both?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Aiden Muir gets an airplane ride with Build a Plane's Lyn Freeman. Photo courtesy Dustin Muir

Aiden Muir gets an airplane ride with Build a Plane’s Lyn Freeman. Photo courtesy Dustan Muir

One of these days, if you happen to see Aidan Muir, he may be wearing a National Hockey League uniform. The 6-foot-3-inch forward has been playing since he was 8 years old and is ranked 108th in North America.

This week, however, his heart belongs to general aviation, and hockey has been relegated to the background while he helps to assemble a Glasair Sportsman.

Aidan joined three classmates from Saline High School in Saline, Mich., as well as four students from Canby, Minn., after the two teams won an aviation design competition sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Build a Plane. Their prize: an all-expenses-paid trip to Arlington, Wash., to help assemble two airplanes at the Glasair Aviation facility.

After a jam-packed first day working with Glasair mechanics in the company’s Two Weeks to Taxi program, Aidan got an airplane ride yesterday with Build a Plane President Lyn Freeman.

“He loved his ride,” says Aidan’s dad, Dustan, who showed me a cell phone photo his son had sent him. (Dustan is on hand as a chaperone.)

The NHL may lay claim to Aidan some time in the near future. This week and next week, GA is his main focus. And the seed planted this week in Arlington will undoubtedly benefit GA in the future.

Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 3: Nonstop learning

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Ben Rauk (he’s one of three Bens at the Glasair Aviation factory in Arlington, Wash.), starts each day of the Build a Plane/GAMA marathon with a briefing and a “lesson of the day.” Today’s was on safety wiring.

Glasair Aviation's Ben Rauk gives a morning briefing to the Build a Plane participants.

Glasair Aviation’s Ben Rauk gives a morning briefing to the Build a Plane participants.

It might have been totally new territory to the students, but Rauk’s tutorials also proved enlightening to observers who have spent many years in aviation. “I learned something on drilling I didn’t know,” said Mark Van Tine, chief executive officer of Jeppesen, who has been helping to build one of the airplanes. “That’s a nice way to start the day out.”

Glasair and Build a Plane cooperated on the construction of a Sportsman in 2008 with four teens who went through the Two Weeks to Taxi program. This is the first time, however, that the organizations have shepherded eight students working on two airplanes simultaneously. What’s more, a privately owned Sportsman has been in and out of the main hangar while the owner flies off the 40 hours required under the regulations governing homebuilt/experimental aircraft. The near-constant activity in the hangar is a happy soundtrack for general aviation.

Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 2: The engine has landed

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

On Day 2 of the Build a Plane/GAMA project, the builders from Saline, Mich., and Canby, Minn., kept up the same teen-fueled pace that they had set on day one. But it wasn’t all work and no play.

All eight of the students got to take breaks in the form of airplane rides today, and the weather cooperated beautifully. (I’m told that “when it’s nice here, it’s really nice.” With scattered to broken clouds at 10,000 feet, nearly unlimited visibility, and temps in the 70s, “really nice” seems about right.)

Glasair's Chris Strachan with a happy Brandon Stripling after an airplane ride.

Glasair’s Chris Strachan with a happy Brandon Stripling after an airplane ride.

Glasair’s Chris Strachan split the flying duties with Build a Plane President Lyn Freeman. Strachan, who is director of marketing and sales, took his passengers up in a jazzy red-and-black Sportsman sporting oversize tundra tires. Freeman flew the Build a Plane flagship, a bright-red Sportsman that four teens helped to build a few years ago.

Brandon Stripling, who hails from Minnesota, has flown before as he has completed a private pilot ground school course taught by instructor Dan Lutgen. Climbing out of the red and black Sportsman, Brandon was asked how he liked it. An ear-to-ear smile was his answer.

“It was awesome,” he said. “That’s a great plane.” Brandon had spent much of day one placing rivets and had enjoyed it quite a bit, but, he said, “Nothing beats flying an airplane.”

logbookJohn Deslauriers, also from Minnesota, is a student pilot and so had brought his logbook in the hopes of getting a fresh entry. He got one after flying with Freeman.

Build a Plane's Lyn Freeman signs John Deslauriers' logbook.

Build a Plane’s Lyn Freeman signs John Deslauriers’ logbook.

Interestingly, the team from Saline, Mich., had been enrolled in a computer assisted design class and do not have the same frame of reference about aviation. (By the end of two weeks, of course, they’ll be pretty darn familiar with the airplane they helped to build.) That hasn’t stopped them from taking airplane rides. For Julia Garner, today marked her first ride in a small general aviation airplane and only her second airplane ride ever. Her first was on Sunday when she flew out to Washington state with the rest of her team.

Lycoming IO-390 engine is mounted in the Build a Plane aircraft.

Lycoming IO-390 engine is mounted in the Build a Plane aircraft.

While their colleagues slipped out one at a time for an aerial break, the rest of the kids worked diligently on their airframes. By 4 p.m., an engine had been mounted in the GAMA/Build a Plane ship. A twin of that Lycoming IO-390 was removed from a gigantic box and likely will be getting its baffling tomorrow. At the rate these kids are going, the Two Weeks to Taxi program may have to change its name.

Build a Plane builds two planes, Day 1

Monday, June 17th, 2013

“Get ready to drink from the firehose.”

Can they build an entire airplane in two weeks? Build a Plane is betting they can.

Can they build an entire airplane in two weeks? Build a Plane is betting they can.

If you’re in aviation, you’ve probably heard that phrase before—particularly if you did an accelerated rating or a type rating. Today I heard that phrase applied to the process of building an airplane.

“Building an airplane” and “drinking from the firehose” are generally not concepts that you hear in the same conversation, but when you consider that we’re talking about assembling an Experimental kit in two weeks, it all makes sense.

The kids who took their first deep drink from the firehose today are eight teenagers from high schools in Michigan and Minnesota. They are the winners of an aviation design contest sponsored by Build a Plane and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. School’s out, and they’re here in Arlington, Wash., to spend some quality time with fiberglas, rivets, and bucking bars.

learning about wingsThe day began at 7 a.m. with a briefing at Glasair’s Customer Assembly Center at Arlington Airport. (We should all have hangars this immaculate and organized. Talk about a place for everything and everything in its place!) By the first morning break, the students had begun mounting rudders and installing rudder cables, and mounting the main landing gear and tires. In another corner, fuel lines were being threaded along a wing.

Glasair’s Two Weeks to Taxi program has several years under its belt, and the level of preparation that goes into it is evident. To the casual observer, today looked a little like “organized chaos,” as one observer put it—but it was also apparent that a lot of progress was made. That’s good, because the plan is to get the first of the two airplanes ready to taxi on Wednesday, June 26, and an FAA inspection on Saturday, June 29.

tire on rimWill they make it? Stay tuned as I post updates from Arlington and the progress of the Build a Plane/GAMA projects.