Just imagine. Can you picture yourself building an airplane and then flying that airplane? And not just any airplane, but one with the capability to fly around the world! That’s what 20 youngsters are doing right now at the Naples Airport.
The Naples Youth Aviation Project has been diligently working on building a Sling 2 aircraft that the young builders will fly upon its completion. These youth, ranging in age from 11 to 17 years old, with aspirations that vary from becoming a commercial pilot to engineering, are learning all aspects of building an aircraft.
The non-profit group was created in June of 2018 by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association and meets twice
weekly with additional workdays during the summer. Under the watchful eye of the EAA mentors, these young builders have
learned to read construction plans, prepare parts, and assemble the various components, while gaining experience with engineering basics and problem solving. Along the way, they also learn patience, teamwork, how to effectively communicate within their group, and take direction from the mentors.
Throughout the building process, volunteer pilots from the Naples EAA chapter provide them with flight opportunities in a wide array of airplanes. The young builders have already completed an impressive portion of the project. Both of the wings, the tail sections and most of the fuselage have been assembled. The popular Sling 2 aircraft kit, designed by The Airplane Factory in South Africa, is made of quality materials with popular options available that enhance the value of the finished product.
This is very important to the group as they plan to sell the airplane after they all fly it, with proceeds from the sale used to fund the costs for the next kit, and on and on. By planning for future aircraft projects in this self-sustaining manner, the EAA can positively impact the lives of many more students to come. Several of the current young builders are looking forward to helping as junior mentors on the next project, teaching their new skills to the next group.
Parent Diane Jackson speaks highly of the program. “As a parent of an aspiring engineer, this program is providing our
child with the confidence and skills that are required for her future career, as well as valuable communication skills. We are so incredibly thankful for the generous group from the local EAA chapter that are coordinating and mentoring this program. Our child has been provided a very unique gift and is already planning how she can give back when the program finishes.”
Through generous donations from the community, the Youth Build will be well on their way to finishing this exciting aircraft sometime later this year. It will then take flight right out of the Naples Airport. Visitors to the hangar for tours are welcome. Build sessions are Tuesdays 3-8pm and Saturdays 9am-3pm. The hangar is located at 250 Aviation Drive South and accessed through gate 13E. If you are interested in donating to this ambitious program, please contact the organization at NaplesYouthAviationProject@gmail.com.
Naples Youth Aviation Project, Inc. is a Florida 501(c)(3) corporation. Tax-deductible donations are appreciated. Mailing address is c/o EAA Chapter 1067 Naples, Inc., 160 Aviation Drive North, Naples, FL 34104. Email at NaplesYouthAviationProject@gmail.com. Follow their progress on Facebook and Instagram.