Due to airshow commitments in Georgia later this week I found myself driving to Sun 'n Fun for the first time in over 30 years. The normal two-hour flight turned into a 6 -1/2 car drive down I-75. So there I was sitting at the pool at the Hampton Inn in Plant City when two guys come through the gate, one of whom was wearing a Van's cap. What a surprise! It took all of two seconds to strike up a conversation and the excitement that exuded from these two was fascinating!
Jim Senft and Ron Chisholm of Wisconsin had just flown an RV-12 from Salem, Wisconsin to Sun 'n Fun over the last two days. But that wasn't the real story. It turns out the RV-12 had been built by a group of students in the Eagle's Nest program, a National program completely funded by donations and student participation. The Westosha Central High School in Paddock Lake near Salem participates via the STEM Aviation program, which is designed to inspire the next generation of aviation leaders.
They first flew into Sun 'n Fun last year after only having 10 hours on it. The students who participated in building of the RV-12 now get to use it for flight instruction at no cost to them or the school. In the last year the RV-12 has amassed over 300 hours. The neat highlight is that the ONLY two female pilots licensed in the state of Wisconsin last year were 2 students who completed that achievement in this very same RV-12! And one of those same students actually flew into Oshkosh last year during AirVenture in the same RV-12.
If you are at Sun 'n Fun this week be sure to visit Ron and Jim on the homebuilt flightline by the maroon and silver RV-12 built by the students in the Eagle's Nest program in Wisconsin.