Most Wisconsin students will head back to school this week and at one Kenosha County school, a student club is looking forward to building an airplane this year.
The STEM Aviation Program at Westosha Central High School in Salem, Wis. is the only club like it in the state, where students learn and actually build an airplane.
The first airplane the students built is now at the Burlington Municipal Airport and they named it Falcon One.
Josh Engberg hasn’t even finished high school yet but he can already add building an airplane and having a pilot’s license to his resume.
“Because I built this plane, I know where everything is so when I’m flying I feel more safe if this goes wrong, I know where this is,” Engberg said.
They spent more than a year building Falcon 1. Now at their workshop at school, they’ve already started on their second plane.
“This program, the kids learn aviation, they learn how an aircraft is put together, they learn the aerodynamics of how it flies and then they get to use the aircraft for free for flight instruction,” said Jim Senft, the director of the STEM Aviation Program at Westosha Central.
The program is supported by the Eagle’s Nest Project, that provides the parts to build the airplane. The club otherwise is run by donations. There is no cost to the students or the school.
“Other programs will have ground school, they’ll teach them the mechanics of flight which is very important but this is the only program where kids can actually build and fly an aircraft,” said Senft.
Four of his students now have their pilot’s license and in 2016, Senft said two of his female students in the club were the only women in the state to receive their pilot’s license.
Senft says he’s planning to add more members to the club this year.
“It’s a new year, new goals, new opportunities,” he said.
Once the students finish building their second airplane, they will sell Falcon one and that money will go right back into the program.