After the sale of the Christen Eagle plane in 2012, Marsh, with the school’s input, received the “green light” to begin the search for another plane for the students to build. Research lead him to strongly consider the RV Series plane kit from Van’s Aircraft. Van’s Aircraft has an excellent reputation, and their kits are very popular in the home-building community. The planes are known for their smooth flying and efficiency, and the Van’s instruction sets have set the standard for being thorough, accurate, and easy to understand. The Van’s RV-12, specifically, seemed ideal for this group of middle and high school student builders.
The RV-12 is the company’s first kit entry in the “Light Sport Aircraft” category. The FAA established the Light Sport category for pilots with licenses without a medical exam. These planes don’t fly quite as fast as some home built planes, and can be assembled with “pop” rivets instead of hard-set AN rivets (Army and Navy specification rivets). This was another important consideration for our young builders, who can easily set a “pop” rivet with the proper tools, especially since there are about 16,000 rivets on the airplane. The resale value on a Light Sport plane is also higher than most home built planes, which is also Key to keeping the Airplane Project flying in the future.
In order to investigate further, Marsh and and his wife, Mugs, organized a tour of the Van’s Aircraft factory in Aurora, Oregon in June of 2012. They were joined in Oregon by Eugene, who had been appointed by to school to oversee and drive the Airplane Project. They were impressed with the facility and the people they met, as well as the craftsmanship and the attention to detail in every aspect of the factory.They were beginning to feel that the RV-12 was a great fit to become The Athenian Spirit of Athenian III for our group of student builders.
They were also inspired by seeing a plane at the factory that had been built exclusively by high school students in the Aurora, Oregon area. The team of students met on Saturdays with adult mentors, and together, were able to assemble the RV-12 in about a year and a half. For more about that project, you can check out their blog and the story of their project at http://www.teenflight.blogspot.com/.
Stay tuned for more on the after-school work sessions!