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Adopt-A-Pilot Program Teaches Science To Kids

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - There`s a saying among pilots to remember you`re always a student in an airplane. And today Scott Fitgerald was training some future flyers.

'I've been in model aviation for about 30 years and it just gets in with the Adopt-A-Pilot program,' explains Southwest Airlines pilot Scott Fitzgerald.  'I thought it might be kind of fun with the kids and once again figure out how to take an idea and bring it to reality.'

Fitzgerald and teacher Matt Maddox have teamed up before with their hands-on homework.

Last year Columbus Elementary students launched a balloon into the atmosphere and experimented with alternative energy.

But this time they`ve fabricated their own fleet.

'It came from a simple idea using graph paper,' says Fifth Grade Teacher Matt Maddox.

'Each kid graphed out their own, then our class voted on five and we split them up in five or six on each team.'

'I cut the kits out one week, took them up in class one day and then I took them away for the finishing touches on them,' says Fitzgerald.

'It consists of math science and engineering so we've learned a lot,' says Fifth Grader Michael Baron.

'The kids learned the artistic and engineering side of what goes into designing an aircraft,' says Patrick Clark holding a lightweight plane.  'They did some of the build work in the classroom.  But at the end of the day all that really matters is whether or not they're airplane would fly.'

'I thought it was cool to see the rolls and stuff,' says fellow Fifth Grader Madelyne Stephen.

Fitzgerald`s first few test flights had a few kinks to air out.

'I really thought you know some of these airplanes although non conventional are pretty aerodynamic down low especially when there's no wind,' says Fitzgerald.

And the best part for these young engineers?

'Probably flying it,' says Baron.
'What was the worst part?' asks Clark.
'Watching it crash,' admits Baron.

If at first you don`t succeed, try again.
After all, two wrongs don`t make a right.
But two Wrights make an airplane.

Patrick Clark, News 11

Raw Video From The Test Flight:

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