Northridge ROTC students take flight with dart planes

Monday , May 19, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

LAYTON – Working on an art project wasn’t necessarily what Northridge High School ROTC students had in mind when they signed up for Aviation History. But that is exactly what they were doing last week, with an ulterior motive, of course.

Their instructor, David Newton, knew what could be gained by crafting their own airplanes.

“They will gain a sense of aerodynamics, understand how planes fly, and appreciate the magic of flight,” said Newton. “Kids will remember this because it’s something they built with their own two hands, and it flies.”

While students followed the 32 steps to build their Delta Dart airplanes, Newton advised them on not using too much glue when forming the wings, making sure they didn’t push too hard on the razor blade as they cut thin sticks. He fended off comments from students wondering if the project counted as an art credit.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the task, Newton said, was for students to simply follow the instructions.

“It’s not difficult, but it teaches them to follow directions, which is an important life lesson,” said Newton.

Sophomore Cereno Saylor openly admitted to having a hard time with that part of the project.

“I’m not used to following the directions because I like to do my own thing,” said Saylor. “However, it’s a good experience because we have been learning about this all year, so we are finally getting a chance to apply our knowledge and get out there to fly airplanes.”

Students who painstakingly followed the 11-page instruction manual were able to take their planes to the sky. They propelled their rubber-band-powered planes by twisting the rubber band numerous times, then tossing the plane into the air where it spiraled up. When the motor, in this case, a rubber band, finished twisting, the plane glided back to earth.

It wasn’t as easy as it looked, though, according to Saylor, who had a little trouble getting his airplane to spiral up correctly. The plane instead wove its way down into the cement before gaining any flight time.

“It is difficult, but I will get the hang of it with a little practice,” and sure enough, a few flights later, his Delta Dart plane was spiraling and gliding just as intended.

The planes are designed to stay airborne for nearly half a minute, according to Newton, who came out of retirement to teach the students about aviation.

“This is a passion for me,” said Newton, who built his first model at age 5. Since then, he has built hundreds of models – even designing his own. Now he is hoping to pass on his passion to others.

In the aviation history class, students have learned about Air Force history and how planes work. Saylor said one of the most intriguing things he learned about was stealth airplanes and different countries’ reconnaissance plans.

He spoke about how the Chinese would attach someone to a kite and send them over battlefields so they could see the action and plan their future attacks

“I think it’s amazing how technology has changed over the years, such that we can now fly over cities and countries, and they don’t even know it’s there with stealth technology, which involves special skins on them to absorb radar pings,” said Saylor.

Sophomore Brock Southwick signed up for the course as part of his ROTC training.

“I felt this would help my military knowledge, since we’ve done paper airplanes, and now these wooden-frame airplanes, which makes me feel smart and able to put my knowledge into daily life,” said Southwick.

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