Wayne Carter

Carter in the Classroom: Students Building Their Own Airplane

Educators everywhere will tell you one of their primary responsibility is to help their students soar. In McKinney ISD they’re taking that literally. Their aviation program doesn’t just teach students about planes, the students even take to the sky.

Pre-dawn, inside a hanger at McKinney Airport, students work, to achieve their vision. It starts out as a bucket of bolts, but every inch of cable, every rivet, is put together by teenagers studying aviation in McKinney ISD.

Some of the students show up already hooked.

"The first time I got right above those clouds it was just beautiful," Nathan Thornsby said.

Others stumble upon a calling.

"I wanna fly commercial, like the airliners." Natalie Delozier added. "It's only something I decided I wanted to do in the last couple of years."

They're guided by more than their teachers. When Chuck Wilson isn't shuttling passengers to and from DFW airport, he's at the hanger, lending a hand and building more than just a plane.

He recalls taking a student up for his first flight.

"We're climbing out headed over the lake and he's looking around inside the airplane and he says 'I remember seeing this part, on that shelf last year' and he’s like 'this is so cool,'" Wilson said.

"We put the name of every student who worked on the airplane on the side of the aircraft so they can point to it and be like, I built that," instructor Todd Curtis said.

Long after the students move on, they come back, on weekends, just like Chuck Wilson, to work  under the lights, soar over the runway and achieve their vision next to the sky.

The plane does go through a strict inspection by the FAA before it takes flight.

The school does need more pilots with an instructors license to come volunteer, so the students can actually use their flight time toward their license.

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