Pete Steers, Lachlan Ross and Cliff Johnston take part in the Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club microlight build. Photo / Warren Buckland

A dozen Hawke’s Bay teenagers are putting their weekends to good use by building a $100,000 aeroplane – becoming the region’s latest aerospace manufacturer in the process.

Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club secretary Peter Steers said two girls and 10 boys aged between 12 and 16 years old were involved in building the aeroplane.

“Mercury Bay [Area] School in Whitianga started this idea about five or six years ago. They introduced this building and aeroplane exercise where they can learn engineering skills and metal-forming skills – all sorts of skills that they wouldn’t normally get.

“So I thought I would get my Young Eagles and some Air Training Corps cadets to join in and build an aeroplane. This would be purely so that at the end of it, they can learn to fly it and then we sell it and with the money we get back from it, we can start again with some new students.”

Mr Steers said it would cost about $100,000 to construct the full Vans RV12 light aircraft. The first of three stages had been funded by a $33,000 grant from Eastern and Central Community Trust.

That had enabled the club to buy the complete kit. More funding would be sought for the engine and propeller, while a final stage would hope to fund the aeroplane’s avionics and a paint job.

“We had a little session for about four weeks before the kit came and when the product came they were then able to address what they have to do to put this kit together.

“We have two complete wings built at the moment and we will be starting on the tail section after Christmas. It’s quite a challenge but it’s very rewarding.”

The group would have to install a total of 15,000 rivets to build the aeroplane, over a period of about 14 months.

“That’s a lot of rivets – but they are loving it because they can see the actual build forming, so it’s very rewarding in that sense and they are very enthusiastic. They love what they are doing.”

The project would be overseen by two aircraft engineers and the end product would be signed off by a qualified aircraft engineer.

Mr Steers added that people could keep up to date on the project’s progress through the HB Student Microlight Building Facebook page.

Source: Hawke’s Bay Today

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