What do you do if you’re a high school teacher whose two passions are engineering and aviation? Well, if you’re Dan Weyant, Tango Flight’s Executive Director, you combine them to create a program that teaches important STEM skills.
“I developed the idea and got a grant from Airbus to work with Wichita State University to develop our unique aviation-related STEM curriculum,” he explains. “We held the first class at East View High School in Georgetown, Texas, in 2016. In 2017, Maize High School in Wichita held its first Tango Flight class. They just finished their fifth airplane.”
Weyant stresses that while Tango Flight’s students assemble an RV-12iS, the goal is not to be another “teen build” program.
“The classroom uses the FAA manuals as a guide to ensure they develop all the other skills they need to accomplish the various tasks,” he says. “Building the airplane is the practical application of what they’re learning.”
Reach out and teach someone.
Weyant says that while teaching STEM skills is Tango Flight’s main goal, another benefit is that the students get to work side by side with aviation industry mentors.
“The student ‘engineers’ get to work with the student ‘assemblers’ on the airplane. Just like in the real world,” he continues. “Tango Flight brings all kinds of students from all backgrounds together to achieve a common goal. That’s pretty rare in high schools these days. It’s one of the best parts of what we do.
“Of course, having Airbus on our team has been huge both financially and through supplying mentors,” Weyant concludes. “They’ve had one of our airplanes in the center of their exhibit at Oshkosh for the past few years. We could not do this without industry help.”