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Students careers may soon take off after building a plane in Meriden

The single-engine aircraft, known as an RV 12, was five years in the making. And, it could be a career-maker.

HARTFORD, Conn — Under the guidance of the Meriden Chapter of Experimental Aircraft Association, 24 Wilcox High School students and members of the ‘Teens to Flight’ program accepted the challenge several years ago of building an actual airplane.

Friday morning, several years of hard work took to the sky.

The single-engine aircraft, known as an RV 12, was five years in the making. And, it could be a career-maker. 

"I’m actually going to school for mechanical engineering, with an aerospace option, hoping to go into aerospace someday," said Kylie Johnson, a

2019 Mercy High School graduate. "So, it’s pretty much-been game-changing for me, life-changing."

"One of my teachers just asked if I was up to it," said Jaden Rogers, a 2019 Wilcox Tech graduate. "There was a meeting after school. I went in and I was hooked."

"When they first came in, some of the kids didn’t even know how to hold a file or drill correctly," said the students' advisor, Mark Scott of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Meriden Chapter. "They couldn’t read plans and, as they went, you could see they were getting more and more confident."

One of the students, who worked on the plane, went to visit his guidance counselor to start setting forth a plan for college.

Scott told the story with a smile.

"And the counselor says 'what have you done?' And the kids said 'well I built an airplane. Oh. Model airplanes are nice. And he said no. I built a real airplane' and he spent the next 10 minutes trying to convince him he actually built a real airplane.

It's real alright. The students, many of whom are now in college, felt their pride soar as the plane took off from runway 36 at Meriden Markham Airport. 

"I’m thinking 'you know I built this you know I helped build this' and I think it’s a great you know it’s a great thing to see come full circle," said Tyler Stout, a 2019 Wethersfield High School graduate.

Their eyes never lost sight of their plane.

"Just knowing that we put so many hours into it, so many nights, weekends," said Johnson.

Then, she had the opportunity to be the first student to co-pilot today. And what a rush!

"Scary at first. I’m not gonna lie," she said after her flight, which included a flyover of Lyman Orchards, near where she lives in Middlefield.

She said as she and instructor, Mark Scott, were taking off, she hoped she had built everything correctly.

But, she was proud.

"I took the stick. So, I flew a little bit. And it was just like wow. I built this. It was pretty neat."

The tail number of this plane includes the letters WT - a tribute to Wilcox Tech.