St. Wendelin Students Build Aircraft to Study Physics
Students will fly partial re-enactment of first trans-continental flight, then donate the aircraft to the Kenya Wildlife Service
Lindbergh Foundation President and CEO Larry Williams, CEO and President of BRS Aerospace, had the opportunity to congratulate students from St. Wendelin Catholic School in Fastoria, Ohio, earlier this month for their work in building the Challenger II aircraft, named ArchAngel.
Students in grades 6-12 spent 2 years building the Challenger II from a kit from Quad City Ultralight. The plane will be used to fly a partial re-enactment of the first flight across the United States, which Cal Rogers completed 100 years ago. The flight will depart from Fostoria, Ohio, on September 17, and will land at several airports across Northern Ohio, before completing the journey in Dayton, Ohio. A celebration of this accomplishment is being planned at Bright Brothers Airport near Dayton, Ohio, at the completion of the flight.
“The purpose of the project is to get students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math,” said Ron Bowerman, a Physics teacher at St. Wendelin High School. Mr. Bowerman’s physics class is designed around aviation, which he hopes will encourage students to pursue engineering as a career. His general philosophy on teaching comes from John Dewey: "Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results." The strategy seems to be working. Students are assisted on a variety of aviation projects by local engineers and other adults, one of whom is now an aeronautical engineer and one of Mr. Bowerman’s former students. But, more work needs to be done. The United States graduates about 70,000 engineers a year. China produces over 750,000 per year. “Next year will be my 41st year as a science teacher, and I still feel a desperate need to get more students involved in engineering,” said Mr. Bowerman.
Over the years, St. Wendelin students have built ribs for 1905 and 1908 Wright Flyers. Students also built 26 wing ribs for a non-flying replica of the Vin Fiz (Wright Ex Flyer), which Cal Rogers flew across the country in 1911.
One unique feature of the Challenger II ArchAngel, is the whole-aircraft emergency parachute, donated by BRS Aerospace. During his remarks to the students, Larry Williams noted that Cal Rogers could have used a BRS parachute himself. “Cal reached California in his Wright EX biplane, but along the way he landed around 70 times and crashed at least 16 times. That’s nearly 25%, or one in four landings!”
Williams also stated that, since it was founded in 1980, BRS has delivered over 32,000 parachutes to aircraft owners around the world. The parachutes are deployed in just 1.6 seconds by a solid fuel rocket and a device called a “slider,” which pushes the parachute through the rear window and away from the airstream. BRS parachutes have been credited with saving 266 lives.
After ArchAngel’s partial trans-continental flight is completed in September, the Lindbergh Foundation will help get the plane to Africa, where it will be donated to the Kenya Wildlife Service and used to monitor and protect wildlife in their national preserves. The KWS uses the technology of airplanes to help save elephant populations from poaching, which helps keep the planet in balance. This work is an outstanding representation of the Lindbergh Foundation’s mission, and is why the Foundation has supported the KWS since 2008, through pilot training, and facilitating aircraft and other donations.
|L-R: Harry Bott, of Aviation Inc., in Fostoria, Ohio, and Mike Kramb, of GSW, in Findlay, Ohio, and Ron Bowerman in front of the ArchAngel. Bott and Kramb are local technical engineers and homebuilders who have helped students with this project since the first workday.
||Building in action
||Enjoying the finished product!