EAA chapter teams with school to build an aircraft

(Above) Student Tyler Barker and EAA memebr John Baker at work on the fuselage of the ultra light under construction at Clear Lake High School.

-Submitted photo.

by Marianne Gasaway

Ken Asbe, a retired Clear Lake police officer who has loved airplanes since he was a young boy, is sharing his passion for flying with high school students in an unusual way.  Asbe has spearheaded a partnership between the Clear Lake High School Industrial Arts class and Experimental Aircraft Association to build an aircraft.

The project, which is in its sixth year, was a true learning experience at its start, but the Legal Eagle XL Ultra Light is beginning to look launch-ready.

In its early days the project was slowed by glue bonding problems, as well as finding the most efficient way to get jobs done.  In recent years, especially the just-completed school year, the project has really taken shape.  And although he is hesitant to estimate a finish date for the project, Asbe sees the potential for it to be completed next school year.

“All the main parts are coming together and are nearly done.  We still need to mount the engine and get the controls put in,” he said.

Every student may not have an interest in flight, but the planning and process involved in building an aircraft spans many subjects.

“The project appears to inspire some of the students to go into engineering, or aircraft repair,” said Asbe, adding others have shown interest in other aspects of the project, including design aesthetics.  “We try to inspire students to reach their full potential, whatever that may be.”

Asbe first flew the idea of having students build an aircraft with Industrial Arts teacher Mike Lester.  Lester stopped at the police station to be fingerprinted as part of the hiring process for Clear Lake Schools and Asbe seized the opportunity.

“I knew nothing about building an aircraft, but I learn along with the kids,” said Lester.  “The project definitely requires students to use problem-solving skills.”

Once he had the go-ahead for the partnership with the school, Asbe set out to raise funds for the project.  He raised $10,000 and secured donations which have helped to facilitate the work.  Wood

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