OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – For more than three years, a group of students from the Omaha area have been building an airplane from scratch. It took its first flight from Millard Airport on Saturday afternoon.
Some of the students who worked on the plane were there to see it fly, including twin brothers Scott and Tyler Swanson. They helped the Aviation Nation project for 3.5 years, taking care of the rivets on the wings, in the interior and with the electrical work.
“We were working on a huge kit,” said Scott Swanson, who is now studying at the UN. “Mentors would help us, but basically they guide us in the directions and we would do it ourselves.”
“I learned a lot. That was the big part,” said Tyler Swanson, who is now also a UN student. “I was a pilot for the most part, so I didn’t really know the mechanical side of things, so I had to do a little more learn about airplanes. “
The Swanson brothers first got involved with the Aviation Nation project when they were students at Burke High School and part of the school’s aerospace academy.
In fact, the academy’s director Andrew Brooks says several Burke students have assisted by airplane over the years under the watchful eye of FAA-certified mentors.
“This gives students an opportunity to turn what they learn in the classroom into something practical, real that prepares them for the real world,” said Andrew Brooks.
Brooks says they learn to follow very precise directions and solve problems intensely.
“The skills I have learned through this thing will help me all my life. I was very happy to take this opportunity,” said Kellan French, who worked on the airplane for about two years.
He watched the finished product successfully launch on Saturday afternoon and thought about the journey to that point.
“It was wonderful to see our hard work paying off,” he said.
According to French, the group worked on the plane in the corner of one of the hangars at Millard Airport. You would go there a couple of times a week. He helped with the fuel lines, engine, propellers, and more.
“All of those times have been tight and fixed everything and every time something broke and had to be fixed again it was all worth it in the end,” said French.
Most students, like the Swanson Brothers and Kellan French, have careers in the aviation industry. The Swanson brothers want to be airline pilots – the two already have their pilot’s license – and French are studying aerospace engineering and rocket engineering in the state of Iowa.
Until then, they are soaking up the satisfaction of a job well done.
“It’s really impressive to see it fly for the first time,” said Scott Swanson.
“It was kind of cool because it looks like, ‘Wow, I actually helped build this and now it’s in the air,” said Tyler Swanson.
After completing the RV-12, Jim Beyer, who piloted the test flight and is one of the mentors at Aviation Nation, is now planning to transition to the EAA Chapter 80 Zenith 750 project. The hope is that the project will start in the next month or two.
Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.