Farmville’s EAA Kicks Off Aviation Fundraiser

Published 12:08 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Farmville’s Chapter of the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) has contributed $2,500 in “seed money” to kick off a fund-raising drive to pay for an airplane that students at Fuqua School will build.

Chapter President Morgan Dunnavant said chapter members had unanimously voted approval of a motion by Ronald White, a corporate pilot for S&M Brands, to provide the seed money. Chapter members will also help Fuqua School find donors for the total cost, estimated at between $45,000 and $50,000. The total will depend upon what engine is selected and what flight and navigation instruments will be included. The basic airframe kit, which will be bought first, will cost about $30,000.

Building the full-size airplane is one part of a collaborative effort between the EAA Chapter and the Fuqua School to bring aviation into the school’s curriculum. The other half of the undertaking is a classroom aviation study made available on-line by Embry-Riddle Aviation University.

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Fuqua School MS/US Dean Susan Carden said that the school was enthusiastic about the program as it would introduce students to a new and wide variety of career opportunities.

“There are literally dozens of career opportunities in aviation in the design, construction, and outfitting of the next generation of airplanes the pilots will fly,” she said. The airplane the students will build is a Zenith 750, a two-place, single engine with all-metal design. It comes in the form of a kit with major components already formed by the manufacturer to eliminate the builder’s need for precision machining equipment.  Fuqua students will actually build the airplane themselves, working under the supervision of EAA chapter members experienced in building kit planes.

A portion of the school’s garage has been set aside for what Carden calls “our airplane factory.”  Students will divide their time between the classroom and the “factory” with three days a week in the classroom on the academic side of the course and two days building the airplane.

Carden said, “Actual construction may take two years or even longer, some Saturday sessions are scheduled, and a week-long summer camp is under consideration.”   

Once the students have mastered the introductory on-line academic course, they will be given the option to begin an in-depth follow-up leading to completion of private pilot ground school requirements. That will involve the physics of flight—how and why an airplane flies, engines and propellers, night flight and flight relying solely on instruments, navigation, communications, weather, physiological effects of flight, and the rules and regulations governing flight.

EAA is based in Oshkosh, WI, and is an organization that promotes general aviation, which it defines as non-commercial and non-military aviation. From introductory flights and educational camps to financial aid and internship, EAA empowers young people with resources to become a part of the next generation of aviators.