Skip to main content
Home > Programs

TeenFlight!

In the Teenflight program, students work together to build a two-seat RV-12 aircraft under the guidance of a team of Mentors. This project requires a two year commitment of every Saturday during the school year, from 9am to 3pm. During this program, students will take part in hands-on project based learning and developing both technical and interpersonal skills. ​

History of TeenFlight

Teenflight originated from a casual conversation between Dick VanGrunsven and Bob Strickland. Bob recognized the importance of inspiring inner-city youth to enhance their math and science skills, thereby improving their life prospects. He chose aviation as a means to achieve this, laying the groundwork for Airway Science for Kids.

In 2005, Dick informed Bob about the development of the RV-12 kit aircraft by Van’s Aircraft, which presented an accessible build opportunity for teenage students. While Bob embraced the concept as an advanced level of Airway Science, he unfortunately passed away before the RV-12 was available. After Bob’s passing, Dick approached several longtime ASK supporters to utilize the RV-12 as a tribute to Bob and as a valuable educational tool for the students he aimed to empower.

Over time, the TeenFlight model has been replicated by various organizations across the USA, Canada, and New Zealand, such as Eagles Nest, TeenFlight Puallup, and Aviation Nation. These programs share similar core concepts but are often associated with a cost.

Cost

Airway Science has been able to sell off nearly every TeenFlight plane build with a surplus, using the excess funds to purchase the kit for the next generation of TeenFlight students. Due to this program model, the TeenFlight Builds have been nearly 100% self-sustainable, less administrative and logistical costs, and with no cost to TeenFlight students. To assist with the sustainability of the program, all TeenFlight applicants are asked to commit to the entire length of the program, generally two full years of Saturdays from 9am to 3pm.

The Students

TeenFlight is open to students aged 14-21. Many students who take part in the plane builds come in with little to no knowledge of planes or aircraft construction, power tool usage, or flying but by the end of the program, they have that and much more. Over the program’s duration, students develop these skills and more, dedicating nearly every Saturday for almost two years to the plane build hangar, often times they end up donating their new skills and knowledge to the next group of students eager to learn as they were.

Through the TeenFlight Program students learn soft skills like teamwork, planning, problem-solving, communication, and patience as well as hard skills such as riveting, grinding, general mechanical and electrical applications, and hands-on aircraft experience and applications.

Previous Students:

Our graduates have pursued diverse fields including mechanical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, physics, art, 3D design, aerospace engineering, aeronautical science, software development, international business, economics, and chemical engineering.

Many have continued their academic journey at institutions such as University of Illinois, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Oregon State University, and Portland Community College.

The Mentors and Volunteers

Mentors and Volunteers are the lifeblood of the TeenFlight program as it is now. Some mentors like Dick, Stan, and Jerry VansGrunsven have been with the program from the very beginning, while others have filtered in and out throughout the years and even include former TeenFlight students! Despite differences in age, background, and profession they all share one thing in common: a passion for aviation. 

These mentors and volunteers foster a space of growth and education through application with the TeenFlight students and they understand that even if these students don’t end up in aviation as a career, that they’re walking away from this program with skills and knowledge that will benefit them for wherever they land.

students learning about the structure of an airplane

On each of the plane builds, the kids coming in are very young and not very confident, with not mechanical skills. It’s rewarding to watch them mature, grow, and transform into self-motivated and confident young adults.

Pick a direction you want to go, but don’t be afraid to change it.

Have a goal in mind. Learn how to stay focused on what you should be doing rather than what you should not be doing.

The Plane

TeenFlight students have traditionally spent their time building an RV-12 kit plane but have now moved to the RV12iS, both produced by Van’s Aircraft. The RV-12iS a two-seat all-metal side-by-side airplane with a large cabin that seats the occupants ahead of the wing spar for maximum room and superb visibility. There are several features that make it a unique RV.

The RV-12iS meets the certification standards of the Light Sport Aircraft category. Because of this you can get into the air right away with a Sport Pilot Certificate which requires less training and a valid driver’s licence in place of a medical certificate. The RV-12iS wings are quickly and easily removable. Using methods proven over decades in high-performance sailplanes, two people can have the wings off the airplane in less than five minutes, making it easy to transport on a trailer and keep off-airport.

The RV-12iS is delivered as six separate sub kits:
  • Tail Kit: Includes all components for empennage surfaces and the fuselage “cone” section- everything aft of the rear baggage bulkhead.
  • Wing Kit: Includes all components for wing and flaperons.
  • Fuselage Kit: Includes all components for fuselage between the firewall and rear baggage bulkhead.
  • Finish Kit: Includes cowling, engine mount, canopy, wheels/brakes, nose gear components, and fuel tank components.
  • Powerplant Kit: Includes new Rotax 912 iS Sport engine, the engine installation kit and a Sensenich composite ground adjustable propeller.
  • Avionics Kits: Include a complete set of avionics (multiple configurations are available for VFR and IFR configurations), pre-tested fuselage wiring harness, engine and flight instruments, switches, fuses, etc.

You can learn more about the plane by visiting: https://www.vansaircraft.com/rv-12is/

There are a lot of really great kids just waiting for the opportunity to grow and spread their wings.

Take full advantage of the learning and broadening opportunities offered by TeenFlight. Don’t hesitate to reference and leverage your TeenFlight experiences when applying for college, programs within college, or job seeking.

Though we do this for the kids, the mentors get tremendous satisfaction from seeing how the kids change over the course of the build. The confidence and teamwork experience they gain is probably far more valuable than the knowledge of tools and shop skills.

Photo Gallery

Skip to content