|From left, Ross Porter, Kevin Shaffer, and Bob Kelly pose by the Young Eagles building. Kelly is helping the students at Jennings County High School in North Vernon, Indiana, build an RV-12.
PHOTO BY STEFAN SEVILLE
Students at Jennings County High School in North Vernon, Indiana, may be building an airplane, but they are also building character.
The Eagle’s Nest project was started as a way to keep teenagers interested in aviation after taking a Young Eagles flight, said Bob Kelly, an EAA member, tech counselor, and builder.
He approached Van’s Aircraft and area schools with the idea, and last September the project took flight.
Seven students ages 14 to 19 spent the first semester practicing the skills they would need.
Then, in January, construction began on the RV-12 kit, purchased by a local businessman who will be repaid when the plane is sold.
Kevin Shaffer, 19, said students met two or three days a week to work on the plane during the school year and are meeting one day a week during summer. Work will continue into next school year.
Ross Porter, 16, said he learned he could actually build a plane. “I never thought I could do something like that.”
Porter now plans to become an A&P mechanic. “Something clicked when I started. It’s a feeling of pride you just can’t beat.”
Shaffer will be going to college in the fall for flight training.
Kelly hopes the project will be ongoing and spread to additional schools.
“To a large extent, kids aren’t challenged enough,” Kelly said. “These students went in saying they weren’t sure they could do this, but they realized they can.”
And they plan to finish the RV-12 by next spring while looking for a buyer interested in a great deal: a brand-new, freshly built LSA—for the cost of the kit.