From crates to the clouds
In August 2016, 24 GISD juniors and seniors and their teachers and mentors began a year-long project—to build a Van’s RV-12. Learning the basics of the math and physics along the way, the students worked during class and on weekend and holiday “build days” to achieve their goal.
Each part of the plane arrived in crates, with staggered delivery over the school year. Here, students remove the partially pre-assembled engine. Most parts arrived in many pieces, each of which had to be inspected, catalogued, and staged for use.
Students work on “skinning” the empennage, part of the plane’s tail assembly. The clecos you see sticking out along the part’s sides hold the sheets of metal in place till they’re permanently joined.
Students learned to follow plans carefully, use tools correctly, and attend to details as they worked. Dan Weyant, GISD aerospace engineering instructor, estimates that about 14,000 rivets were used in the build.
Dedicated mentors guided students throughout the year. Mentors included pilots, local business owners, parents, and professionals with experience in military and commercial aviation. Many have already signed on for next year’s build.
A student works on a wing. The RV-12 features detachable wings, so the plane can be transported by trailer and stored in a typical garage. GISD FFA/Ag students built a trailer specifically for the plane.
The wiring harness and canopy installations were especially challenging tasks.
By late spring, the build was beginning to look like a plane. The detachable wings meant that the entire build could take place at East View’s engineering lab before the plane was trailered to Genesis Flight Academy’s hangar at Georgetown’s airport in mid-May.
Students prep the plane, dubbed Spirit of Georgetown, for its public debut. It passed the FAA inspection for airworthiness on May 21, 2017. The tail number N217TF designates the 2017 TangoFlight build.
The Spirit of Georgetown takes flight over the community that worked together to make this experience possible for GISD students.
View videos and more photos of this year’s build and follow next year’s build at www.facebook.com/TangoFlight.