Students at Granger High School near Salt Lake City, Utah, have built their own airplane, guided by the school's aerospace technology teacher, Scott Lewis. Funded by a $15,000 grant from the '100-Per Cent for Kids Credit Union Education Foundation', Lewis led students in a project to create the four-passenger aircraft, called Excalibur, which will take to the skies this September.
The students hope to have a celebrity pilot like actors Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, John Travolta or celebrity supersonic pilot Chuck Yeager - all members of the Experimental Aircraft Association - at the controls.
Lewis said the project included a number of students involved in physics, vocational technology, graphics and aerospace technology classes at the school, giving students a hands-on real-world glimpse of the kinds of things they could be doing if they take up careers in the aerospace industry.
The plane itself came in a kit, purchased with money from the grant. Students on the airframe building team assembled the frame, fuel tank, rudders, elevators and control surfaces.
The interior 'crew' worked on the inside of the plane and the paint crew, comprising students from the school's collision repair class, worked on sanding, fairing and painting the aircraft.
Students in the school's graphics courses created logos and graphics to brighten the outside of the aircraft, which included the names of each and every student who worked on the project, as well as 16 sponsors.
Lewis feels that the only way to get kids interested in science and vocational technology is to get projects like this going, so that students leaving school have a vision of what they could do in life.
In the summer vacation, the school has brought in experts to install the technical and electronic gadgetry. Lewis said it was the very first time that high school students in the state - and as far as he knows in the country - have built a velocity aircraft.
After the initial flight the plane will be put up for sale or will be made available for use as a rental plane at the local airport, with the profits going to the school. The 100 Percent for Kids Credit Union Education Foundation has awarded more than $4 million in grants to Utah schools since its inception in 2002. All donations reach the classroom; administrative costs are not supported.