GISD Aerospace Unveils First Plane
Students from Georgetown High School and East View High School built a fully functional airplane as part of Georgetown ISD’s Aerospace Engineering course. The plane, named “The Spirit of Georgetown” was unveiled in a ceremony at Georgetown airport May 25.
This is the first completed plane for the course and although the day was too windy to have a flight, Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent took the first taxi ride with East View teacher and pilot Dan Weyant. Brent quite simply said, “This aircraft is amazing! I just want you to remember that in February 1917 the City of Georgetown created Georgetown ISD and it’s funny that 100 years later, we have students who built an airplane.” Weyant announced, “According to the FAA, our plane is officially airworthy.”
Weyant assured the crowd that all of the students would get a ride and several of them will be ready to solo-pilot the plane before next year.
The Aerospace Engineering class is a dual college and high school credit course first offered for the 2016-2017 school year by Georgetown Independent School District. Funding for the project was seeded by a donation from the Sun City Rotary Club and the students did a lot of the fundraising themselves.
Weyant leads the class of 24 students, 12 from each school and announced next year’s class is already preparing.
About 200 people from all walks of Georgetown turned out to see the aircraft, but the project has gained attention from colleges and international companies. French aircraft manufacturer Airbus, took note of the program and is providing funding for the students to attend technical summer camps.
The program goal is to be self-sustaining. Weyant plans to have a plane while fundraising and building a plane next year so they can eventually sell the first one. Then build a third, sell the second and so on to cut down on the need for fundraising.
Victoria Kainer, this year’s female student, says she has always been interested in math and science and this class was a great opportunity. “The most challenging part wasn’t really difficult, but it was tedious and painful. Everything on the plane had to be de-burred. We had to remove all the sharp edges of the metal and all 15,000 rivets to keep the metal from wearing. There were more than a few band-aids. It became a running joke but we knew we had to do it.”
Victoria will be attending Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in Albany NY. She would like to learn to fly at some point but right now if focusing on upcoming tuition.
The aircraft is a partnership between GISD, Project Lead the Way and the local Georgetown non-profit TangoFlight and the City of Georgetown. The two seater airplane was built using kits purchased through Van’s Aircraft, an aviation company in Aurora, Oregon.
A local group of 30+ advisors from the community helped guide students as they built the aircraft. The advisors have a wide range of aeronautical experience and come from varied backgrounds. Advisors include former military pilots, commercial pilots, local business owners, and involved parents. Advisors provided help in the classroom, as well as help in the actual construction of the aircraft.
Links to the class website can be found at GeorgetownISD.org.