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Five planes built by one school – one of a kind project in New Zealand

On June 14, The Informer wrote about ‘the plane getting close to completion.’  The article was taken from a monthly report sent by the Plane Build Project which is part of the curriculum of MBAS (Mercury Bay Area School) and we were writing about the fifth plane (RV -12) which was being built by the students.
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On Saturday, 9 December, at 10.00am that fifth RV 12 took its maiden flight with Linda Hopper in the pilot’s seat. Linda and Leigh Hopper purchased the plane in its kit form. Linda is the RV’s first owner and pilot. The success of this long-term project relies on people being willing to buy a plane in kit form and then trusting the final product will materialise and in perfect condition. This has occurred five times now in the 13 years of Plane Build. Well Done!

It was a very special day out at the Whitianga Airfield for MBAS and for Mercury Bay Aero Club. All five planes were there with owners and with pilots and all five took-off from the airfield in celebration of a great achievement. Television News One was there and will screen a programme on the Plane Build in January.  TV One News was out at the airfield 13 years ago when the first RV 12 had its maiden flight.  Cara Bosman who was a student at MBAS and took part in the Plane Build, was there to pilot the first RV built. This was the one her dad, Stephan had purchased but later sold on to another local Aero Club member.

Other schools have mounted similar programmes but have built just the one plane.  This is a long-term commitment by Mercury Bay Area School and The Mercury Bay Aero Club to engage students to be a part of building an RV 12 – (two-seater light aircraft) from start to finish. They are all kits which need to be put together, but it is indeed an intricate and difficult task for which persistence and a commitment to learning and careful watching is required. The Aeroplane Club works every week with the students and after every stage, they conduct a very careful inspection of everything to date.

Tony Turner has been the chief project officer co-ordinating the plan build. He works with the students every Wednesday afternoon. Students choose to do this subject. “It’s very rewarding to see a student who knows virtually nothing about aircraft or building them, become passionate about learning and even choose to learn to fly. Some have become commercial pilots because of this experience with Plane Build and some become aero nautical engineers,” says Tony.

The amazing partnership all started in 2010 with Jim Evans a member of the Mercury Bay Aero Club. Jim’s background as an engineer and commitment to young people made him a great pioneer when it comes to teaching students the workings of an aircraft and a love of flying.  Many in the Aero Club carry on his legacy.  It is Tony Turner’s turn and he does a great job with the help of others from the Aero Club.