MERIDEN — Wilcox Technical High School senior Dylan Barclay has had a lifelong interest in aviation, but a recent project with his classmates has helped turned the hobby into a possible future career.
Since November, Barclay has been part of a group of eight students — seven from Wilcox Tech and one from Wethersfield High School — who have been building a small plane from a kit at Meriden-Markham Airport.
Group adviser Randy Seeber said the plane, a Van’s Aircraft RV-12, is a light sport aircraft that weighs about 1,700 pounds and is built to fly two people.
Barclay’s experience with the group will lead to him attending Aerotek, an aviation maintenance school in the Hartford area. Upon completion of school, Barclay will receive his Federal Aviation Administration license.
“I’ll be able to work on just about any type of aircraft ... from small ones like here to, I can progress to a jet engine,” Barclay said.
“I came here and experience what it’s like to work on planes inside and out, kind of get to see what they’re like mechanical-wise,” Barclay added. “It definitely helped in my interest.”
Steve Fraas is the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 27 vice president, which covers Meriden-Markham and the surrounding area. Fraas was supervising Monday evening as four students adjusted rivets in the plane’s fuselage and roll cage.
The group of students, ranging in age from 14 to 17, meets for three hours on Sundays and two hours on Mondays each week.
The students began working on the plane in October and hope to finish it in about a year. The group has completed the wings, tail and control surfaces, and will soon install interior parts of plane, such as plumbing for gas lines.
“They’re pretty enthusiastic. I think they get a lot done in a short amount of time,” Fraas said. “We’re not really coaching them; they know what to do.”
The completed plane has an estimated value of about $75,000, Fraas said. When finished, Fraas hopes to sell the plane, and start the project over again.
“Just so everybody can have an opportunity to do this again,” he said.
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