Just plane smart: Georgetown ISD students building aircraft

Students at East View and Georgetown high schools are building an airplane that will take its first flight this May.

A part of the aerospace engineering program offered within Georgetown ISD, 24 high school juniors and seniors are constructing an RV-12 aircraft.

The implementation of this program led to the creation of Tango Flight. Tango Flight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit high school aerospace engineering program in which students learn about aspects of aviation and aerospace engineering through the hands-on experience of building an aircraft and working with local aviation companies, and they earn college credit with the integrated Project Lead the Way engineering curriculum. The science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, course offers high school students the opportunity to participate in building a functioning two-seat metal airplane.

Leading the program at East View High School, Dan Weyant created Tango Flight to help fund the project, which costs around $80,000, and bring attention to the work his students are doing.

"To my knowledge, no one else in the country is really doing anything like this," Weyant said during a tour of the East View engineering labs Friday morning.

By the end of the project, the students will have spent around 800 hours building the plane with the help of mentors from the Georgetown chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Sun City Aviation Club.

Weyant said he has received significant interest in the project and is in talks with Airbus Americas, which manufactures civil aircraft, to bring the program to schools in Wichita, Kansas, and Mobile, Alabama, where Airbus has locations, over the next five years. Tango Flight is also looking at investing in its own hangar at the Georgetown Airport, according to Weyant.