Texas Students Get Ready to Build a Plane

Olney High School students win GAMA/Build A Plane Aviation Design Challenge.

GAMA build a plane
The team from Olney High School in Texas was very excited to be named the winner of GAMA and Build A Plane's annual Aviation Design Challenge.GAMA/YouTube

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Build A Plane's annual Aviation Design Challenge for high school students has come to a close, culminating in the selection of Olney High School from Olney, Texas as the winner. Four students from the school, along with one teacher and one chaperone, will soon travel to Arlington, Washington, to spend two weeks building a Glasair Sportsman for its new owner, Ken Baur from Pennsylvania. Baur's son Mike will also participate in building his father's new airplane.

“We are looking forward, with excitement, to the experience of building the plane and especially to our interaction with the winning team,” said Baur. “It is always enjoyable working with young people as they are learning.”

Olney was one of 93 high schools from all over the United States that participated in this year’s competition. Through the Fly to Learn curriculum, which teaches basic aerospace engineering, the students were tasked with modifying a virtual Cessna 172SP through software powered by X-Plane, to enhance its performance. The airplanes were then evaluated based on payload capacity, range and fuel efficiency.

“We call it Build A Plane, but really it’s all about building futures, those of students with an interest in science and that of general aviation,” said Glasair Aviation’s president Nigel Mott. “The industry needs the promise of bright young people like these. We are absolutely delighted to be a part of this program.”

“The chance for our students to compete in the Aviation Design Challenge broadened horizons in ways that we would not have been able to do without GAMA,” said Olney High School principal Matt Caffey. “The best part is that their learning will continue through the enriching experience they will have at Glasair this summer.”