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build-a-plane03-1-24 The red and white RV6 parked in the workshop at Sedona Red Rock High School needs more than wings and a prayer.
By Greg Ruland
Larson Newspapers
________________


The red and white RV6 parked in the workshop at Sedona Red Rock High School needs more than wings and a prayer.

The airplane needs a tail and a variety of electro-mechanical parts, including a radio transmitter and flight controls.

Though the aircraft will never fly, Steven Hein believes it could be the catalyst for dozens of high school students who want careers in the aviation field — from pilots, to mechanics, to aerospace engineers.

“I visualize that one of the kids we work with will turn out to be another Jack Northrop or William Boeing who changes the world,” Hein says.

Northrop and Boeing, airplane pioneers, started aircraft

manufacturing companies that survive to the present day.

Hein’s enthusiasm for the BuildAPLane program he launched Thursday, Jan. 18, with SRRHS physics teacher Laurel Romm, lifts the room.

Students, teachers and parents, including members of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron,

gathered at SRRHS to discuss plans for the future.

Open to students from Camp Verde, Cottonwood and communities across the Verde Valley, BuildAPlane is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating young people about math and science through the hands-on experience of building an airplane, Hein says.

BuildAPlane is not affiliated with SRRHS, but the high school provides the group with a place to meet and work.

In partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration, BuildAPlane sponsors projects across the nation. Sedona’s is one of the newest.

The RV6 group members will soon get a chance to work on was donated by an aircraft

insurance company.

Hein and Romm, both pilots with a background in aerospace engineering, will donate their time to teach the group how to assemble, test and operate the aircraft.

CAP Lt. Darryl Thompson, the Verde Valley Composite Squadron’s aerospace education officer, said he shares Hein’s enthusiasm for the project.

“I believe this is going to generate a lot of interest in airplanes and aerospace engineering,” he says, “We’re lagging far behind other countries in the number of engineers we are turning out.”

Hein’s track record is pretty good. The time he donated to help SRRHS students Cody Kukulski and Vincent Loparco on their robotics project took the pair to an Arizona state

competition, which they won in 2005.

Hein, Kukulski and Loparco are currently working on the robot they plan to enter in national competition this year.

“It takes us to our happy place,” Loparco grins, explaining why he and Kukulski like working on gadgets.

“I just love to build stuff,” Kukulski says.

Brooklyn Nichols, another SRRHS student excited about BuildAPlane, says she can’t wait to get started.

“I’m in love with airplanes,” she says.

Hein seeks donations for the group with an eye to buying a more sophisticated airplane, the RV8A, for group members to work on.

“It’s a high performance, aerobatic, very fast airplane,” Hein says, his eyes wide with anticipation.

In the meantime, the group will work with a variety of mechanic hand tools, including those special to aviation, using the RV6 like a math and science classroom.

Field trips to Luke Air Force Base for a look at the F16s and other outings are planned.

BuildAPlane participants may even get their first experience in the cockpit, Romm says.

A certified ground school instructor, Romm says she plans to help students start work on their pilot’s license.

For more information, call 282-6940.


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