WHS Pre-Engineering Class takes on model airplane project

Test flights at West End Wings Airfield yield success for students

After weeks of research, assembly and teamwork, the Pocono Mountain West High School pre-engineering students were ready to take the model aircraft they built by hand off campus to test the aircraft’s performance and endurance in a series of test flights at the West End Wings Airfield on June 10, 2015.

Eleven of the 12 students in Herb Ziegler’s pre-engineering class were on hand at the West End Wings Airfield, a sport model airplane and helicopter club airfield, to perform the necessary pre-flight steps prior to take off. The students in grades 9 to 12 built “The Kraken,” using mostly foam board, tape, hot glue, rubber bands and small wooden craft sticks. In all, the students spent $153 on materials for their aircraft. Special rechargeable batteries would power the planes propellers.

The students researched and found the twin-engine design they wanted to use for their aircraft on a website (Flitetest.com), but they decided to make some modifications to the stock version. They added differential steering, which would allow yaw control through the motor throttles, and changed the placement of the landing gear, according to Robert Lugo, a junior, and Bryan Angel, a senior. Also, there would be no fuselage on the aircraft, because the students thought less weight would give the aircraft more lift for flight.

As part of the project, the students kept a log of their daily accomplishments and tracked their costs. They measured and cut foam board many times until each part of the aircraft fit together perfectly.

To make the project more challenging, the student then took a model glider built by a previous class and made modifications to it. They planned to use the 4-pound airplane they built to lift and carry the nearly 1-pound glider into the air. Even more challenging, the students built a hooking assembly on the aircraft that during flight was supposed to release the glider from The Kraken, so the airplane and glider could fly separately.

“The purpose behind the class is to get students to realize that science is more than just memorization,” said Mr. Ziegler.  ‘Because I said so…,‘ or ‘it will be on the test…,‘ is not in and of itself a motivational strategy for success.  Students in this class have been shown that engineering is the application of science and technology used to solve problems.  We chose a complex project so that students could achieve success only through perseverance, critical thinking and teamwork.”

At the West End Wings Airfield, The Kraken took off without a hitch on it first flight of the morning and the landing went smoothly. The next challenge was for The Kraken to lift and release the glider in midair during its second flight. The second flight began with some concern among the class with whether or not The Kraken would even be able to take off and fly with the added weight of the glider. The students were surprised to find The Kraken actually flew better with the added weight of the glider; it seemed to stabilize the aircraft in the air. The only setback was the latch mechanism for the glider would not release in the air.

The students and Mr. Ziegler decided try using duct tape to attach the glider to the Kraken instead of the latch mechanism. The students and their teacher reasoned that if the airplane did some rolls in the air, the duct tape should give way and the glider would break free. It took two flights for the students to determine the correct amount of duct tape to use to secure the glider to The Kraken, yet allow the glider could break free in the air.

Overall, the flight tests of The Kraken were a great success for the class. The model aircraft they built was able to get lift and fly. The students also learned that with teamwork, creativity and perseverance they were able to accomplish their goals.

PM West HS Pre-Engineering Class: Bryan Angel, Grade 12; Adam Capotorto, Grade 11; Greg Cooper, Grade 9; Jacob Cordova, Grade 9; Damian Cuero, Grade 9; Jonathan Hamelburg, Grade 10; Tyronnie Harlee, Grade 9; Robert Lugo, Grade 11; Hurbert Sztandera, Grade 12; Brendan Swaney, Grade 9; Roberto Thompson, Grade 9; Chandler Williams, Grade 10; and Teacher Mr. Herb Ziegler.

Flight-2 Flight-5 Flight-29 Flight-35 Flight-36 Flight-38 Flight-39 Flight-41 Flight-web-story-1

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *