This project was set up to develop practical aviation skills and knowledge in young people all over the UK whilst motivating them in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through a real-life experience. It has been supported by Brooklands Museum since the idea was first developed by Captain Stewart Luck, a professional airline pilot, in 2002.
The initial project involved young people aged 11-18 years in building a real aeroplane that they could then fly in as passengers. In 2003 this resulted in the purchase of a RANS S6-ES kit and a programme was set up to celebrate the centenary of powered flight. The first aeroplane was built in sections by young people at Lisburn in Northern Ireland, Mold in North Wales, Perth in Scotland and Manchester in England. It was registered as G-TSOB, ‘The Spirit of Brooklands‘, and after certification first flew in the summer of 2005. Since then it has been seen at many events throughout the UK, including aviation events at Brooklands Museum, Wings & Wheels at Dunsfold, The Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough Airshow. Its mobile hangar is a converted airport terminal shuttle bus, which doubles as an activity base and was made possible by a generous donation from BAA Stansted.
In 2005 Mr Tim Gilmour-White sponsored a second kit. Scouts and Air Cadets in Devon have now completed and flown a two seat X-Air Hawk registered as G-SPDY, standing for ‘The Spirit of Devon Youth‘. For more details about the Devon Build-a-Plane, visit Devon Build-a-Plane.
The latest development of the concept is the involvement of Boeing and The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) in The Schools Build-a-Plane Challenge, which is aimed at UK secondary schools. The whole school can become involved much as an aircraft company would operate, so as well as understanding the scientific and engineering principles involved, with the ultimate aim of taking a flight in the aircraft once complete, the participants develop commercial skills such as project management, problem-solving, team work and communication. The training and advice needed by young people before they take on these tasks are provided by teachers, adult members of youth organisations, the Light Aircraft Association, RAeS, Boeing, and other representatives from industry and museums. The first of four Build-a-Plane projects sponsored by Boeing was completed in the summer of 2010 by Yateley School with support from Court Moor in Fleet and King’s College of Art & Technology in Guildford and the second project involving Marling School in Stroud is well on the way.
Boeing announced that two further schools would be joining the project in 2010: Bridge Learning Campus, Bristol and Ercall Wood Technology College are the third and fourth winners of the Build-a-Plane Challenge. More details on The Schools Build-a-Plane Challenge and how to become involved may be found at The Royal Aeronautical Society or Youth & Education Support (Y.E.S.).