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Eyes on the sky: Pleasant Valley, North Scott, Bettendorf students construct airplane

For the past two school years, the PNB Aviation Club has been hard at work building a RV-12iS model aircraft.

ELDRIDGE, Iowa — A group of Iowa students are soaring to new heights.

For the past two school years, the PNB Aviation Club, made up of students at Pleasant Valley, North Scott and Bettendorf, have been working to build an airplane.

They've already completed the tail and wings of the plane, with the help of their mentors at the Experimental Airplane Association (EAA) Chapter 75 - Quad Cities. Now, they're working on the fuselage, or the body of the plane.

"For being as young as I am, I didn't think I'd be able to build an airplane," said North Scott seventh grader Chloe Sosnowski. "When I was younger, when I would think of an airplane, you think of the big ones like the commercial flights and stuff, but I didn't know there were smaller ones that two people can fly."

It's a RV-12iS model aircraft from Van's Aircraft. Eventually, it will be certified so two people can fly in it.

"Whoever flies it is going to have a really great time flying in our airplane," said Pleasant Valley freshmen Teddy Guroff. "I personally would love to fly it. I don't have a pilot's license or my driver's license for that matter, but hopefully I'll get those soon enough so that I can fly this thing."

Guroff joined the club because of his interest in aviation.

"I like flying in planes, generally," he said. "This thing, it kind of inspires me."

The goal of the club is to help teach students and get them more interested in STEM-related fields.

"You get a lot of education in school and a lot of it's out of a book, this adds another dimension to that education process," said Jim Skadal, who's one of the mentors. "(The) industry is looking, desperately looking, for young people that have both abilities to be able to read blueprints, to read directions and then implement those in all aspects of the trades."

As a mentor, he's just there to guide the students and make sure they're following the directions, but all the work comes from the kids.

"It's kind of unique and pretty cool to see the young people progress and their skills," he said. 

The students also said they're learning a lot.

"I really like the problem solving aspect of it," Sosnowski said. "Sometimes we don't know how to do a certain thing and so you look through all the ways you can do it."

She's always been interested in building and now thinks she'll pursue some sort of career in it, although she's not sure what that will look like.

Guroff feels the same.

"It's definitely a new experience that I didn't realize I enjoyed," Guroff said. "I think I might look forward to more engineering or more hands on stuff, as opposed to just touching the plane. Flying it or building a plane would be fun to do."

The club will continue meeting and building through the rest of the school year and pick up again next year. They don't have a timeline for when the plane will be finished.

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