LAKELAND, Fla. — Sean Stoltz could fly before he could drive. The 17-year-old student at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy is one of a few dozen teens who will spend the summer building a functioning airplane.
"It's like eating an elephant,” he said. “The only way to really do it is one bite at a time and you'd better really like elephant.”
The students really like aviation.
“There’s nothing like being in that left seat,” junior Noel Bell said while tightening some screws into what would become a wing.
The project will take months. The students are building a Zenith 750 Cruiser and plan to give it to an organization called Able Flight, which helps men and women with disabilities become pilots. It’s become a special mission for the CFAA students.
“Able Flight aims to allow that person who has a disability or is unable to fly anymore able to fly again,” explained Bell.
Able Flight pilots will train for 6-8 weeks in Lakeland this spring. That has accelerated the kids’ work speed. Every student who helps build the plane will sign their autograph next to their work. They hope to have it complete by August and plan to unveil it at Sun N’ Fun in 2020.
“When you can get someone like that in the plane and you see their face, it brings something to your heart,” said recent graduate Christina Rodriguez.
The plane will be lightweight and have modifications for pilots with disabilities.
“This makes me really excited about what we’re building,” said CFAA instructor Ed Young. “We’ll have a second stick here for those who don’t have use of their legs can use the second stick.”
Central Florida Aerospace Academy students building airplane for pilots with disabilities
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