Students fly to new heights

Project to build and fly a WW1 replica plane underway at Sutton Valence, the first time a school has undertaken such a venture

Design technology students at Sutton Valence school are about to embark on a two-year project to construct a replica of a World War I Fokker Eindecker, a single wing plane originally built by the Germans in 1915. The school’s ‘pilot’ has been recognised, now part of the youth ‘Build A Plane’ project run by the youth education branch of the Light Aircraft Association (LAA). The single-seater plane will be built to three-quarter scale, which means it can be flown by anyone over the age of 16 who holds a microlight licence, as opposed to the CAA pilot’s licence.  

Although replica warplanes have been built before, kit suppliers Grass Strip Aviation, based in Gloucestershire, believe it is the first time such a project has been launched within a school. Nevertheless, the project has importance beyond the classroom. Dan Keep, Head of DT at Sutton Valence, said: “At a time when there are concerns about the shortfall in engineering graduate numbers, it is great for pupils to engage with engineering first hand.”

Sutton Valence is working in conjunction with St Ronan’s Prep school at Hawkhurst. The latter school will work on the fuselage, while Sutton Valence students plan to build the wings. The project has been made possible by a generous donation from the Froud family, which has seen three generations supporting the school, as well as from several sponsoring companies.

Mr Keep said: “We are trying to show our students, in a practical way, just how far aviation technology has advanced in 100 years. It is almost unbelievable to think that these planes were built for war, but they were to prove to be an inspiration to future generations of aircraft builders.”

The ultimate goal is for students to exhibit their work at the national Design and Technology show and, eventually, for two students to be able to fly the plane as part of the flypast at the Armistice Centenary in 2018.

www.suttonvalence.org.uk

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