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HOWELL, Mich. (AP) — A group of Howell High School students flew through last week's finals, then crashed.
Students in Howell's student aviation ground school program not only completed a written test but created motorized model airplanes, based on the flight concepts they'd learned, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus ( http://bit.ly/1y3xD2k ).
The test was challenging. A question about converting temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius was about the easiest of the nearly 40 they faced.
But getting the model planes off the ground was even more challenging.
Not every one of the five teams got their craft off the ground and even those that did experienced some bumpy landings.
"Landing gear, that was the biggest challenge," said Hillary Rickelmann. Her mostly female team created a plane that not only flew but performed a neat loop before coming down.
Teams were creative but realized early that they'd have to throw out some of their more extreme ideas like rocket engines and wedge designs.
"We're just happy it flew," said Christian Harris.
His team's plane stayed airborne long enough to capture the class' inaugural flight competition trophy.
Each team had to finance its model airplane and team T-shirts, raising money and technical support from local businesses.
"They had to do this all on their own," teacher Jay McDowell said.
Over the past month, students visited hardware stores and hobby shops for parts and materials.
Teams and mentors watched the action inside a hangar at Howell Township's Crosswinds Aviation, which presents the class in partnership with the school district.
An elective, the flight school program began last year.
Students use their math and science skills in learning how flight occurs. They also meet with professional pilots and visit airports, including the Livingston County Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Howell Township, to learn about flight-related careers.
Completing the course puts students on their way toward earning a recreational pilot's license, saving them thousands of class fees in the process.
Some 22 students took the class in the first semester, with a new group now in place.
Regardless of whether, or how well, their planes flew, McDowell said he was proud of last week's graduates and the community should be, too.
"My wife thinks I should give you all an A," he said.
Information from: Livingston Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com
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