STEM - Success

What is STEM success? 

 Why are we so very proud of this project? 


August  2016:  no student had any aviation background.

August 30, 2018:   was a proud day for the project!!!

 A 17 yr old student soloed in a Piper Cherokee airplane, at VKX, having taken classes at HJ-Aviation Flight School, under the tutelage of Mr. Damion Joyner, CFI.    


And .... four (of the thirty students) are studying for FAA written exams and are pursuing flight lessons and will be certified as FAA pilots by the time that they are 16 yrs old!    Some of the others now consider aviation as a realistic career path.    We are so very proud of them

STEM - Mission Project:

DC Youth Aviation - Build a Plane, Inc. is a non profit, education  group established with the purpose of promoting Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning to high school students.  


We took the group to the Smithsonian Air and Space aviation museum.  

Expertise and dedicated teaching:

University of DC  Aviation Maintenance Program hosted the Build a Plane students.  Program Director, William Russo and Ambrose Kun, Instructors generously provided specialized aviation maintenance instruction.  They explained the process of analysis, problem solving, fabric wing construction, engine design and restoration practices.   

Mens et Manus, mind and hand:

Mr. Ian Piper, British International School Principal, emphasized the benefit of a hands-on approach to problem solving.  This exposure to aviation incorporates theory, practice and creativity.  This is a learning experience where students become deeply engaged in the process.  A holistic approach to learning creatively, particularly in non-traditional subjects is a positive challenge for students. 

Basic Aviation Ground School

Students received basic aviation ground school using the Civil Air Patrol youth teaching booklets.     Pilots  Lucia Mencia,   Melinda Benson  and student director, Gareth Hall  provided fundamentals    of aviation classes when weather did not permit trips to the frigid hangar.  

Tours:   NTSB Research lab tour

The Build a Plane club was able to go to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) laboratory, to hear investigative forensic scientists talk about accident data-bases and their work to research aviation accidents, investigation procedures and audio and visual tools that scientists use to process aviation accidents.  

The staff of the NTSB was generous in their time and showed the students how black box tapes were analyzed. They showed audio sound wave analysis and how a damaged tapes could be restored.  

                                                  An absolutely fascinating tour.

Students learned about forensic analysis of composite materials, about the chemistry and molecular composition of failed fan blades, engine parts and plane structures.   Thank you NTSB!

Tour to Paul Garvey Aviation Restoration studio

        The students went to the Smithsonian Udvar- Hazy Air and Space Center museum where they were given a tour of the Paul Garvey Restoration Studio. There, Mr. Patrick Robinson, Museum Specialist, Preservation and Restoration Unit was generous with his time and explained the process of museum restoration of historic airplanes.   He showed the students back-of-house materials, tools, photographs and explained the methods used by professional restorers.  Students were very inspired. 

The staff of the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at Udvar Hazy, Smithsonian Air and Space museum were generous with their time and showed the students their methodical and meticulous process by which exhibited planes were taken apart, memorialized, photographed, and cleaned.  All planes are historically researched and put back in an authentic manner to be eventually exhibited.  

        By seeing wood planes from 1900s, Flack Bait,  WWII fighters, and modern airplanes being restored, Students learned that these skills take time, effort and dedication.

          The impressive aviation museum outside of the restoration hangar includes among the earliest of planes,  the Concord, Sopwith Camel, many fighter planes, even some of NASA space vehicles.  

Field Trip - Women in Aviation Conference

Melinda Benson and Lucia Mencia, with chaperone Rob Taylor,  took eight of the Build a Plane club students to the 2018  Women in Aviation conference in Reno, NV.  They met women astronauts, pilots, mechanics, flight instructors and fellow aviation students.  While at the WIA conference, the students attended seminars, heard lectures from aviators, learned about safe flying practices and networked in order to apply for aviation scholarships.  

Encouragement from RAeS

The prestigious Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), Education Branch provided a scholarship for continuing education prize to one of the students who researched and wrote an essay about an aviation topic.  The award was presented by Sir Stuart Mathews, a RAeS director and aviation promoter at the British Embassy in Washington, DC.  

Hands-on Application of lessons learned: 

Mr. Ron Whitehead, Experimental Aviation Association (EAA),  gave the students a preflight lesson at the Tipton Airport, KFME, at Fort Meade, MD,   EAA Open House.

Ron Whitehead, active Experimental Aviation Association (EAA)  member,  showed "Build a Plane" students how to preflight a plane and taught aviation safety at Tipton Airport's (FME) Open House.