COMMENTARY / PLANE TALK
LAURAN PAINE JR.
The New Teen Flight
A new chapter for the Oregon program that gets kids building
I RECENTLY VISITED THE NEXT ITERATION of the Teen Flight program
in Oregon. You remember the first one: Donors provided an
RV- 12 kit and tools; Van’s Aircraft donated space to build; and a
Van’s employee, Scott McDaniels, stepped forward to “honcho”
the program. (I was one of the mentors.) If we do say so ourselves, it was a riveting success.
Scott did a great job and cataloged many “lessons learned.”
The kids built the airplane, Scott and one of them flew it to EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh 2011, and it was on display with the kids
who built it. It was a wonderful program and a wonderful
Amy and Jonathan learn the finer points of using a tubing bender from Van himself.
experience, all around. I’ve said it before,
but I have to say it again because it’s such
an important part of the Teen Flight program: Wherever those kids go in life,
whatever they do, aviation will, somehow,
be a part of their lives forever. That’s what
Teen Flight did for this group of kids.
How does it get any better than that?
Where’s the airplane today? The kids
have been flying in it, taking lessons. It’s a
Now, how to keep the program going?
We know the concept is valid, honorable,
and good. We also know that it takes time,
money, commitment, and effort. And we
know that programs evolve (that actually
being a good thing). What works for one
program doesn’t always work exactly the
same for the next one. But, when it’s all
said and done, the more iterations of the
program we have, the more information
we have to pick and choose from to build
the next program. That’s all to the good.
That’s my rah-rah speech. Before I get
into how this Teen Flight program is
working, however, let me ask you to
switch your focus from where you are
right now and picture yourself walking
into a large building and seeing—drum
roll, please—a partially completed airplane fuselage, airplane parts and tools,
pictures of airplanes on the walls, and—
another drum roll—kids crawling all over
building the airplane fuselage and other
miscellaneous airplane parts. Just picture
that in your head for a minute. Please. It’s
heartwarming, isn’t it? And it’s even better to witness.