Build A Plane Project Begins in Remote Alaskan Village

Sponsored by Build a Plane, the Thomas W. Wathen Foundation, IndUS Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration, this Build A Plane project at Hooper Bay High School is the first in a series of efforts to establish aircraft construction programs in...


Riverside, California, July 11th, 2007 — The first five boxes containing components of a Thorp T-211 which will be built and flown by high school students has reached Hooper Bay, Alaska. Sponsored by Build a Plane, the Thomas W. Wathen Foundation, IndUS Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration, this Build A Plane project at Hooper Bay High School is the first in a series of efforts to establish aircraft construction programs in remote Alaskan villages.

"You can't imagine what a dream come true this is for us!" said Hooper Bay High School teacher and pilot Grant Funk. "Our village is more than 90% Yu’pik Eskimo and is 500 miles from the nearest road, so almost everything we do here involves aviation."

Federal Express picked up the Thorpe T-211 aircraft parts from Bangalore, India and flew them to Anchorage, Alaska. Lynden Incorporated then flew the boxes all the way to Bethel, Alaska, and Artic Transportation Services took the components the rest of the way to the kids at Hooper Bay. All of the air freight services were provided to Build A Plane free of charge.

"We’ll begin the building process right away," Funk said. "This fall I'll teach a Sport Pilot ground school so that when the airplane is completed we'll have the ground school already finished. And as soon as the airplane is certified and ready to roll, we'll teach them to fly it!" Grant Funk is also a certified flight instructor.

The Thorpe T-211 aircraft was donated by Dr. Ram Pattisapu, founder and CEO of IndUS Aviation, which operates out of Dallas, Texas, and Bangalore, India. "It's a huge privilege for our aircraft to be part of a program like this," Pattisapu said. "IndUS has been a big supporter of Build A Plane since it began and I hope more of the aviation and aerospace community will step up and get involved. This is the kind of thing we need to be doing."

This project is a direct result of the partnership agreement signed last year between Build A Plane and the FAA's Aviation and Space Education Program. Build A Plane will work with the Hooper Bay High School group to provide additional aviation vocational opportunities. The National Center for Aircraft Technician Training coupled with the Aircraft Electronics Association is offering a course in repair and installation of avionics. Additionally, the Parametric Technology Corporation is preparing to donate $1.5 million dollars worth of 3D computer-aided design software. Dr. Irvin Gleim, of Gleim, Publications has donated complete Sport Pilot ground school training, and additional support for the Hooper Bay kids comes from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty.

Build A Plane has donated dozens of aircraft to groups across the United States and countries around the world, and is currently developing aviation-themed curricula to motivate kids to learn science, technology, engineering and math. For more information on Build A Plane, visit the group’s website at www.BuildAPlane.org.

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