June 21, 2017

Winners of the GAMA/Build A Plane 2017 Aviation Design Challenge – the team from Olney High School in Olney, TX – will spend the next two weeks building a Glasair Sportsman airplane at Glasair Aviation in Arlington, WA, working alongside the airplane’s owner Ken Baur and his son Mike and the staff at Glasair Aviation.

Students Bryant Castro, Kodee Scott, Michael Gomez and Amber McCutcheon, along with teacher Sabrina Laurent, won the all-expenses-paid trip to assemble the Sportsman as part of the fifth annual Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) competition.

The value of general aviation, including business aviation, in supporting high-skill, high-wage American jobs, like those involved in the STEM professions has been a central theme of the No Plane No Gain initiative.

GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce, former Jeppesen CEO Mark Van Tine, and other staff from GAMA and Jeppesen will help oversee construction of the airplane. The Sportsman is a kit airplane that can be assembled in two weeks through Glasair’s “Two Weeks to Taxi” program.

“Over the past five years, I’ve watched talented and enthusiastic young students develop their skills and increase their confidence in just two weeks as they build an airplane,” said Bunce.

“Not only do they learn how to build a plane, but they also learn valuable life skills in public-speaking, teamwork, and critical thinking, as well as about general aviation manufacturing professions they may not have otherwise known they could pursue.”

“We’re fortunate that we get to participate in several big, fun events each year, Oshkosh and Sun ‘n Fun for example, but for us the best is the two weeks we spend with the winning students who come to build a plane,” added Glasair Aviation President Nigel Mott. “Their energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and we come away better for the experience. It’s really a great program GAMA and the challenge sponsors have put together.”

GAMA member companies are sponsoring the team’s travel, lodging and meals. The builder of last year’s plane, Dennis Willows, will provide the students with a tour of the University of Washington, San Juan Island, and a look at the plane built by last year’s challenge winners.

This year’s competition attracted 93 entries from high schools in 31 states and Washington, DC. The schools used “Fly to Learn” curricula and training, including software powered by X-Plane, to learn the basics of aerodynamic engineering.

The Aviation Design Challenge was launched in 2013 to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge among U.S. high school students through aviation – which also is a goal of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign.

Learn more about the Aviation Design Challenge.