Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to take a ride in the company’s CJ3 up to Glasair Aviation. We are currently training a second pilot so there wasn’t an empty seat in the cockpit for me to join my CFI. I was certainly bummed, but there are worse things. Nevertheless, the CJ3 is a fantastic aircraft and the trip from Carson City, NV up to Arlington, WA was gorgeous, smooth, and quick! The view of the line of west coast volcanoes was breathtaking.
The purpose of our trip was to visit a group of extraordinary high school students who had won the GAMA/Build A Plane 2017 Aviation Design Challenge. The company I work for, Click Bond, is an active sponsor of the Aviation Design Challenge. These recent high school graduate students competed with other high school students from all over the country in an effort to win the ultimate prize: An all-expenses-paid trip to Glasair Aviation to assist an owner with a Two Weeks to Taxi build effort.
The Two Weeks to Taxi program, at Glasair Aviation, allows builders to get their kit planes in the air within a few weeks’ time rather than years! Glasair has designed a program that ensures the owner reaches the 51% mark in two weeks’ time on their Sportsman. The Sportsman is a four-place composite airframe kitplane with what seems to be unlimited options and opportunities. It has a Useful Load of 1000lbs with a Cruise Speed of 150 kts. I am dying for a chance to take one up!
In order to win the prize to spend two weeks building an airplane (how cool is that?!), the students must complete the supplied curricula and then apply what they have learned by modifying the design of an airplane. Once they finalize their design, they compete in a virtual fly-off, which is scored based off of aerodynamics and performance parameters while flying a specified mission. Had this been available to me when I was in high school, I would have jumped at the opportunity. It is incredibly encouraging to see the increased number of programs designed to get students interested and curious about aviation.
We spent the day at Glasair Aviation meeting and working with the students and employees of Glasair Aviation, discussing careers in aviation and next steps in education after high school. The first half of our day was spent getting some hands-on experience, building with the students and learning about the process of experimental aircraft building. After lunch, the team was led on a tour of the facilities by Glasair President Nigel Mott. We even found some Click Bond parts on a plane in assembly!
One thing in particular that I was looking forward to seeing at Glasair was their composites area. At Click Bond, we have departments dedicated to manufacturing composite parts. I was very excited to see how Glasair molds and cures their composite fuselage. We were able to see multiple molds in use and already curing with a vacuum seal pulled. We cure our composites differently at Click Bond due to the part size and functionality. There are many ways to cure composites and it was fascinating to see another method in action.
This trip was a great opportunity to visit another champion in the general aviation and experimental aircraft arena. My secret hope is that Click Bond will be the owner of the next Two Week to Taxi program that next year’s winners of GAMA’s Aviation Design Challenge help build! Registration for the Aviation Design Challenge 2018 is now open. If you are an interested high school student or high school teacher with interested students, register now!