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GAMA/Build A Plane 2017 Aviation Design Challenge Winner Announced

GAMA NEWS 17-39 For Immediate Release: May 23, 2017




GAMA Director of Communications:
Sarah McCann

Released: May/23/2017

General Aviation
Manufacturers Association
Headquarters: (+1) 202-393-1500
European Office: (+32) 2 550-3900

GAMA/Build A Plane 2017 Aviation Design Challenge Winner Announced

Washington, DC — The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and Build A Plane today announced that Olney High School in Olney, Texas, is the winner of the fifth GAMA/Build A Plane Aviation Design Challenge. The challenge, created in 2013, promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) knowledge among U.S. high school students. As the prize, four students, one teacher and one chaperone will travel to Glasair Aviation in Arlington, Washington, to build a plane from June 19 to July 1.

The competition included 93 high schools from 31 states and Washington, DC. The teams used Fly to Learn curriculum to learn the basics of aerospace engineering and then applied that knowledge by modifying a virtual airplane with software powered by X-Plane. The software scored the aircraft based on the payload, the length of the flight and the amount of fuel burned. In addition, judges from GAMA’s engineering team evaluated a summary of modifications each team made to the virtual Cessna 172SP, a checklist of steps involved in the demonstration flight and three videos submitted throughout the competition, culminating in the students sharing what they learned.

“These students are about to have the experience of a lifetime building a plane with Glasair’s talented staff, and learning about the many career options that exist in general aviation,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “We look forward to spending two weeks with this outstanding group, which is the first winning team of the design challenge to include two girls. We thank our generous sponsors for making this experience possible for them, and for providing the curriculum and software to all the schools that participated in the Aviation Design Challenge this year. Although the grand prize for this competition is the actual build, the holy grail of the effort was 93 teams of high school age young men and women, along with their teachers and volunteers, applying their knowledge and skill to collectively unlock a passion for many aspects of aerospace through which they will help ensure a bright future for our industry.”

“As a GAMA board member I am proud of the young men and women of Olney High School and their teacher for their hard work and dedication that allowed them to win the GAMA/Build A Plane Challenge,” said Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch, who delivered the exciting news to the students and their teacher. “Congratulations to these fine students.”

Glasair Aviation President Nigel Mott added, “This is such an extraordinary experience for everyone involved. The high school students who win the Aviation Design Challenge have already accomplished so much, and then to spend two weeks hands-on assembling an exceptional aircraft – what an incredible achievement! We call it Build A Plane, but really it’s all about building futures, those of students with an interest in science and that of general aviation. The industry needs the promise of bright young people like these. We are absolutely delighted to be a part of this program.”

“The chance for our students to compete in the Aviation Design Challenge broadened horizons in ways that we would not have been able to do without GAMA,” said Olney High School Principal Matt Caffey. “Our students winning is one of the most exciting things to happen at Olney High School this year. The best part is that their learning will continue through the enriching experience they will have at Glasair this summer. We also thank Jim Hirsch of Air Tractor for the time he took to deliver the news to our students in person.”

Builder Ken Baur will not only let the students help build the airplane, but is bringing his son, Mike, to assist him throughout the two-week build.

“We are looking forward, with excitement, to the experience of building the plane and especially to our interaction with the winning team,” said Baur. “It is always enjoyable working with young people as they are learning. I’ve communicated with a past builder who was also fortunate enough to work with a previous winning group and he said it was a really wonderful experience!”

“This is such an amazing program,” added Build A Plane Founder Lyn Freeman. “These kids come from around the country to build an airplane. They have no idea that for many of them, their lives are about to change forever.”

Sponsors will provide round-trip airfare, hotels and meals for the winning team. They include Air Tractor, BBA Aviation, ClickBond, Embraer, Garmin, Gulfstream Aerospace, Jet Aviation, Jeppesen, JSSI, Redbird Flight Simulations, Siemens, Textron Aviation, Wipaire and Bose. In addition, staff from GAMA will support the build.

To watch a video announcing the winner and see the students’ reaction, please visit the GAMA YouTube Channel. More information about the competition organizers can be found at,, and

For additional information, please contact Sarah McCann, GAMA Director of Communications, at +1 (202) 637-1375 or

GAMA is an international trade association representing over 100 of the world’s leading manufacturers of general aviation airplanes and rotorcraft, engines, avionics, components and related services. GAMA’s members also operate repair stations, fixed based operations, pilot and maintenance training facilities and manage fleets of aircraft. For more information, visit GAMA’s website at

Communications Director:
Andre Castro:
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Headquarters: (+1) 202-393-1500
European Office: (+32) 2 550-3900

GAMA exists to foster and advance the general welfare, safety, interests, and activities of the global business and general aviation industry. This includes promoting a better understanding of general aviation manufacturing, maintenance, repair, and overhaul and the important role these industry segments play in economic growth and opportunity, and in serving the critical transportation needs of communities, companies, and individuals worldwide.