Dream it. Build it. FLY IT!
While walking around the grounds at AirVenture this past week I stumbled upon an uncompleted Zenith STOL CH750 on display and thought to myself, “What’s this about?” So I stopped by to figure out what was its story, and to find out, its story was just beginning. That’s where I met Jerry Graf and his students.
Ever wonder what it would be like if you had the chance to build an aircraft growing up? Aviators By Design is a nonprofit organization founded by Jerry Graf and not just any nonprofit. It was formed with the idea of reaching out to our youth and creating a unique educating experience for those passionate with aviation. All originating two years ago at AirVenture 2012 in the Homebuilt Pavilion.
Based in Lola, Wisconsin, Jerry’s goal is to have tomorrow aviation’s leaders build an airplane (the Zenith) under the guidance of professional aviation build experts. With that experience a massive amount of skills are being formed such as mechanics, math, avionics, welding and more… something that is hard to find in schools in today’s world. Aviators By Design started out with six students now doubled with fourteen all by word-of-mouth from area schools.
Building the plane is just a start, the students will be able to learn to fly the plane they crafted and once finished have licensed they’ll be able to use the plane as a club plane for them to fly.
“I just love the enthusiasm everyone in our group shares towards aviation,” said Dustin Unertl, a student working on the project. “I think the biggest thing I’ve gained from this project is a vast array of knowledge, the project if just filled with opportunities to learn!” I myself know how valuable this unique experience these students are partaking in, as I’ve had a similar experience with restoring an Aeronca Chief back when I was in high school.
Now as you can imagine, Aviators By Design being a nonprofit, takes a lot of funding to get this dream airborne. If you’d to help the organization out and help with the gift of granting these students with this unique opportunity you can visit their website at www.aviatorsbydesign.com to donate.
Overall the mission of Aviators By Design is: “To encourage the next generation to explore, learn, and discover opportunities in the world of aviation!” Be sure to check out the video below.