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Students in high school collaborate to construct an airplane



Eldridge, Iowa – In an Eldridge shop, students from three different Quad Cities schools are collaborating to construct a little aircraft.

Pleasant Valley High School bought a kit to construct a miniature airplane in 2021, which is when it all began. North Scott and Bettendorf high schools joined it shortly after, and the PNB Aviation Club was born. Additionally, they are moving forward.

Students are putting the kit together and building it. It’s a Vans RV12, capable of carrying two passengers or a pilot and copilot, and it cruises at roughly 125 mph.

With the club, 36 high school kids from Pleasant Valley, North Scott, and Bettendorf are gaining lifelong skills.

Zoya Yousaf, a freshman at PVHS who joined the group in August, is one of those students.

“A friend of mine hits me up and she was like, hey, there’s this aviation club where you actually build the planes,” Yousaf said. “And I was like, is it a model plane? And she’s like no, a real plane!”

Yousaf says she loves that she is already involved in the development of an aircraft and that her goal in life is to become an engineer who builds airplanes.

“It’s very interesting to see the plane at first,” Yousaf said. “It’s so complicated, all the stuff that goes into it. It really amazes me.”

Craig Olson, the club mentor, likes to watch the students’ excitement while they work on the plane.

“It’s fun seeing it,” Olson said. “Part of it’s just the aha moments, the light bulbs come on, and oh, I understand how this goes together. I understand how this works.

Understand how it works aerodynamically and what this part might do to make the airplane fly someday.”

The wings, rudder, horizontal stabilator, fuel tank, empennage, and tail cone have all advanced significantly thus far. To inform other student builders of what has been completed and what areas of the building still require attention, they have also maintained thorough documents and drawings. These consist of remarks written on the flight schedule and data entry.

Test flights and the completion of the landing gear and brake system, as well as the avionics system, engine installation, and the mating of the tail section with the fuselage, are still outstanding tasks.

Olson stated that as the journey is more important than the actual finish, there is no predetermined timeline for completion. He did, however, add that ideally the plan may be finished by the conclusion of the upcoming academic year.

The initiative was financed by grants and individual contributions. The workshop was donated by North Scott and is housed in the Eldridge bus barn for the district.

Mentors suggest that when the plane is finished, it will be sold. The club intends to build another plane with the revenue and earnings of the sale.



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