normal reaction. The kids were told, “You
take it one part at a time. It’s like life: you
succeed by persevering.”
At the beginning of each workday Scott
assigned the kids to a team: Red Team,
Blue Team, Green Team, etc. And then he
assigned a project to each team: vertical
stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, etc. Mentors
are assigned, too, and as different ones
attend at different times, they vary each
week. That’s actually a good thing; since
mentors have different backgrounds, kids
get different input. And, amazingly, the kids
Wherever these kids go in life,
whatever they end up doing,
they’ll always have a soft spot
in their hearts for aviation, for
they once built an airplane!
are darn good at sorting that out. Mentors
are not professional teachers, but they are
passionate teachers. It became obvious
to them early that kids learn differently.
But they do learn, and development is
individualistic. The key is to stick with
them, and that’s exactly what the mentors
did. How to handle mistakes? Overcome
them. Just like in life. It’s a simple but
important lesson. They tell the kids, show
the kids, but do not build it for them!
Lesson learned; that’s what we all do now:
let the kids build. As the kids learn more it
becomes exponentially easier to turn them
loose, so to speak. It’s like a race where
everyone wants to start fast, but then you
settle in. We’re settled in now.
Through it all, Scott is the final
authority, and that’s important, too. Before
any final riveting takes place, you check
with Scott. There’s no freelancing. The
lesson? High standards.
Along the way something interesting is
happening with the kids. As the airplane takes
shape, they become emotionally involved with
it. And when you say de-burr and dimple and
countersink and Cleco and rivet, they know.
And, rather clandestinely, you’ll see them
check the work of the other teams. And then
they’ll ask questions and share with each other.
One thing that was a little hard
for me, and some other mentors, was
the sharing of one toolbox. Building
is generally a solitary experience: I
know where my tools are (except when
the one I’m looking for is in my back
pocket). When teams are using tools
they tend to get scattered or thrown
in various places and drawers in the
toolbox. You often have to dig around or
ask around to find the one you need. It’s
not a bad thing; it’s just an adjustment
you make when building as a group.
When the first Teen Flight column
appeared, Tony, in Southern California,
wrote me. He’s created a similar program.
He’s mostly on his own, using his shop
and his tools, calling his program the
Southern California Aviation Mentoring
Program. I wrote him recently and asked
him for a mid-term report. He said it’s
going well; one of the big challenges
being staying ahead of the kids. And
he’s awaiting the donation of a Pazmany
PL- 2 from Build A Plane. There are hints
of developmental offshoots from his
program. “I am more convinced than ever
that any program like ours, by using the
natural allure of flight and aircraft, can
have an impact on youth far beyond just
the desire to expose more kids to the joys
of flying,” he wrote.
Where are we now? Tail is done,
wings are almost done, and the fuselage
is started. Very helpful in this process
is the RV- 12 kit itself: it goes together
like a fine Swiss watch. An open house
is scheduled in the near future. I’m
Van flew his recently completed RV- 12 in,
giving Teen Flight students the opportunity to
see what their finished project would look like.