22, 7, 65 and 24 are not some secret safe combination or a complicated football play, but magic numbers that will unlock many dreams and desires of our local high school youth.

They are the bus numbers that left from Lake Placid, Sebring and Avon Park high schools Monday carrying students through Gate 24 to the EAA Chapter 1240 Aviation Development Center to begin the Highlands High School Aviation/Aerospace Program.

“I want to learn how to fly,” “I want to be an Air Force pilot,” “I want to be an aeronautical engineer,” “I like aviation.” These are some of the quotes from our students when we asked why they enrolled in the program. In many ways, they don’t know what they don’t know. The program will introduce the students to the many “Options and Opportunities” available in aviation and aerospace.

You might think that aviation and aerospace are one in the same, but there is a difference in each industry. “Aviation” involves things that fly and operate within the earth’s atmosphere, and “Aerospace” involves things that operate outside the earth’s atmosphere. Our students will explore both areas during the next school year.

Here are the first four units we will cover. In addition to these, our students will be in a “lab” session building an aircraft and other aviation / aerospace related hands-on activities.

Unit 1 — Getting to Know Aircraft: Students will explore the types of aircraft operating in today’s aviation environment, including traditional manned aircraft and remote piloted aircraft, or drones. They’ll learn how the FAA categorizes aircraft and how to recognize aircraft of different types. Students will then investigate some of the factors affecting aircraft design, including how the aircraft will be used. This unit will give students a framework on which to build a deeper understanding of the variations in aircraft.

Unit 2 — How Aircraft Are Made: Students will begin this unit by learning to identify the various parts of an aircraft, including the common and distinguishing features of airplanes, helicopters, unmanned aircraft, and some less common aircraft types. They will go on to look at aircraft construction with an emphasis on the materials used and the safety features of various aircraft types.

Unit 3 — Understanding Air: To understand flight, students must understand the medium in which aircraft operate. This unit will focus on the role air plays in flight, including its behavior as a fluid and the importance of air pressure. Students will also learn why the density of air is important, how it changes, and how to measure it. The concept of density altitude will be introduced.

Unit 4 — Forces of Flight: This unit takes an in-depth look into the forces affecting aircraft in motion, including the four forces of flight—lift, weight, thrust, and drag. Students will start by gaining an understanding of how aircraft move above the surface of the Earth, including how the flight path is affected by forces such as wind. They will go on to explore how lift is produced, the role of airfoil design, how to calculate lift, and the meaning and significance of an aerodynamic stall. They will also learn how to determine weight and balance for an aircraft and how faulty weight and balance affect flight characteristics. Students will examine how the power developed by an aircraft engine is converted into thrust and how various types of drag affect aircraft performance.

As you can see, the program has depth and the added dynamic of conducting classes at the airport where students can look out the hangar door to the runways and see real-time examples of the concepts and content they are studying. For more information about our program and how you might get involved or help, contact John Rousch at johnrousch73@gmail.com, call or text 863-273-0522.

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