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Pilot Takes Off in Kid-Built Plane



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Grades 2-up

News Content

The youngest pilot to circle the globe is inspiring kids in a different way now.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, write the word rivet on a board or chart. Ask students if they know what a rivet is? (A rivet is a piece of metal used to fasten together two objects, usually two pieces of metal.) What kinds of tools do riveters use? (A riveting tool or riveting gun is used to rivet two pieces of metal together. A riveting tool is often pneumatic, or air-powered.) This instructional video from illustrates how a simple riveting too works.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: aviation, experience, organization, inspiration, rivet, supervise, and cockpit. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Even though he didnt have much construction _____, Roger was able to follow the directions to build the doghouse. (experience)
  • The pilot climbed into the _____ of the fighter plane. (cockpit)
  • In 1912, Juliet Low envisioned an ____ that today is called the Girl Scouts. (organization)
  • Brandon used a _____ to fasten together two pieces of metal. (rivet)
  • No children are allowed in the pool unless there is an adult around to _____ them. (supervise)
  • The young church pastor was an _____ to the teenagers in her parish. (inspiration)
  • In December 1903, the Wright Brothers made _____ history when they flew the first engine-powered airplane. (aviation)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Pilot Takes Off in Kid-Built Plane.

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Here's some metal. Here's some rivets. Construct a plane." That was how one student remembered the first instructions he and the other teens heard on the first day in Experience Aviations summer Build & Soar program. The students in the program had applied to be part of it. Many things -- including students school grades -- were considered in choosing the 60 students who would build the plane that Barrington Irving flew.
  • Students learned electronics and avionics skills as they used drills, rivet guns, and other tools to build horizontal stabilizers, fuel tanks, and engines.
  • You challenge these students and they can do it. These kids want to be challenged," Irving told MSNBC News.
  • I'm very proud. I never thought we'd get the opportunity to do something like this," said Rayshwan Jones, who spent her summer working on fuel tanks and wings.
  • On the day of the big test flight of Inspiration II -- October 15, 2008 -- weather conditions were a bit iffy. After concern about whether it was too windy to fly, clearance was finally given. Irving and safety pilot Juan Vega taxied down the runway and took off. They quickly returned in order to repair a problem with the planes canopy, and then took off again on a 10-minute flight before a large crowd of spectators. When he emerged from the cockpit, Irving told the crowd, It was a great ride. Flew smooth -- a little bit windy and turbulent and stuff -- it flew real well." Later, he said, I did the easy part of flying it, and you know what, they did the challenging part of applying themselves and focusing to do something as challenging as building an aircraft in 10 weeks I'm very proud of the kids. You guys are the best, man, I love you!"
  • Watch this CNN/YouTube video about the plane construction.
  • When Irving was a senior majoring in aeronautical science at Florida Memorial University, he became the youngest person and first black pilot to complete a solo flight around the world. That journey began at Opa-Locka Airport near Miami on March 23, 2007, and ended there 96 days later (June 27). Irving had logged 26,000 miles and 150 hours of flight time. My plane had no radar and no de-icing equipment," he told the The New York Times. It was just me up there, alone, flying on gut instinct -- pretty much the way Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart did it."
  • Irving said he often grew lonely and frustrated on his record-setting flight, but the fans who were following his flight on his blog helped lift his spirits and inspire him to continue. Their enthusiasm kept me going," he told The Times.

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to explain how the teen airplane builders in the news story might have used rivets.

    You might follow-up that discussion by asking some of these questions:

    Recalling Detail

  • Why did Barrington Irving start his organization, Experience Aviation? (Accept reasoned responses such as he wanted to encourage students to learn about science, math, and aviation; he wanted to inspire them; or he wanted them to see that they had a future.)
  • How many teens participated in the summer program? (60)
  • How long did it take the students to build the plane that Irving flew? (10 weeks)
  • How long does it take professional plan manufacturers to build a similar plane? (about a year)
  • On Inspiration IIs test flight, how long did Irving stay in the air? (about 10 minutes)
  • How many days did it take Irving to fly the Inspiration around the world? (96 days)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. Then ask students how they think the program might help inspire students to think about the future in different ways. (Students responses will vary. Some might say the program will inspire students to see the possibilities that the future holds in store. It might inspire them to work hard in school so they can go to college. It might give them confidence to try other things they might not think they can do)

    Follow-Up Activities

    Language arts letter writing. Ask students if they might like to be part of a summer program such as Build & Soar. Explain that students had to apply to be part of that program. Challenge your students to write a letter of application in which they share why they would want to be part of the program and why they would be a good candidate for it.

    Geography. Follow the path of Barrington Irvings history-making 2007 flight around the world. Challenge them to use the map on Irvings Web site (click on the World Flight Map button) to create their own world maps to show Irvings route through places such as New York City; St. Johns, Canada; Madrid, Spain; Athens, Greece; Cairo, Egypt; Mumbai and Calcutta, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Hong Kong; Nagoya, Japan; Anchorage, Alaska; Seattle, Washington; Houston, Texas; Mobile, Alabama; and Miami. Students might use World Outline Map 1 or World Outline Map 2 as they complete this activity.

    Listening comprehension. Share with students the first three paragraphs of the biography of Barrington Irving on his Web site, (click the Meet Barrington button). Then ask the following questions about Irvings early life:

  • Where was Barrington Irving born? (Kingston, Jamaica)
  • In which U.S. city did he grow up? (Miami)
  • What do his parents do for a living? (They own a Christian bookstore.)
  • What event happened to inspire Irving to want to learn to fly? (Irving struck up a conversation with a customer in the bookstore who happened to be a pilot. The customer invited Irving to tour the cockpit of the 747 he piloted. That tour was the moment when Irving knew what he wanted to do.)
  • How did Irving earn money for flying lessons? (He washed planes.)
  • How much money did Irving spend on the Microsoft Flight Simulator computer program? ($40)

    History aviation history. Challenge students to read about Charles Lindbergh or Amelia Earhart. (Older students might investigate other famous aviators.) As students read, they should write down three facts they learn that they did not know before. Set aside time for students to share what they learn.

    Science physics. Older students might want to learn more about how airplanes work. Beginning resources include How Airplanes Work on the HowStuffWorks Web site and What Makes An Airplane Fly Level 1.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section above.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.2 Physical Science
    NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.2 Physical Science
    NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.2 Physical Science
    NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

    GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    NT.K-12.3 Technology Productivity Tools
    NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools
    NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World