‘Take Flight’ at Lebanon High School

Updated information about our student plane-building partnership with Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H.

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Make a contribution today and help Lebanon High School students start building airplanes!

Special opportunity: Contribute to ‘Take Flight’ via NH Gives on June 11-12 and double your donation!

On June 11-12, you can help the ‘Take Flight’ student plane-building program get off the ground this fall at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, N.H. With a contribution made online to the Aviation Museum of N.H. through NH Gives, you’ll help give young people their wings—and double your donation thanks to a generous $10,000 matching campaign. For more info about the program and how to donate, visit our NH Gives page.

What your NH Gives donation will do

The plane-building program, dubbed ‘Take Flight,’ will enable Lebanon High students to take classroom science and engineering knowledge and put it work building an actual airplane—a kit-based two-seat Van’s RV-12iS aircraft. They’ll do it as part of a three-credit course with the help of faculty members and adult mentors who volunteer in the workshop. It’s intended to open pathways to careers in aviation and aerospace—and to change the lives of Upper Valley young people.

Assembling the airplane expected to take two years. Once completed and certified as airworthy, it will then be sold on the open market, with the proceeds used to pay for the next set of kits for a subsequent build. This will create a self-sustaining program that will provide an incredible learning experience for students, all at no direct cost to local school taxpayers.

However, the project DOES require start-up capital—and that’s where you come in.

To establish ‘Take Flight’ at Lebanon High, the Aviation Museum has committed to raising $310,000 to cover all costs. We’ve already raised $213,000 in major grants and donations. Now, we’re seeking help from the public to get us to our goal so the program can go forward. Any donation of any size is welcome, and will make a difference.

For this year’s NH Gives campaign, we’re thrilled to announce a $10,000 matching grant from the Slusser Family, long-time Aviation Museum supporters. During NH Gives, any donation to the Aviation Museum will be DOUBLED, up to $10,000 in total, all to support ‘Take Flight’ at Lebanon High School.

Each donation during NH Gives will be matched 100 percent, up to $10,000 total. Your $100 donation to ‘Take Flight’ via NH Gives means $200 for Take Flight. A $250 donation results in $500 for the program. We hope to max out this generous matching campaign, resulting in $20,000 for Take Flight, which takes us closer to our overall goal.

Thanks to this NH Gives match, any amount you can contribute to Take Flight will have TWICE the impact on this program. And that means you’ll help give students a hands-on experience that could lead to an exciting and lucrative career as a pilot, aviation mechanic, air traffic controller, aerospace engineer, and more. The sky’s the limit!

If you’re wondering if this program can be successful, we know it can be because we’ve already done it.

In 2019, the Aviation Museum partnered with the Manchester (N.H.) School of Technology in a similar plane-building program. We raised the needed funds, and students completed their first RV-12iS aircraft in June, 2022. The school has since established a dedicated aviation program, with students about half-way through their second plane.

A key partner in the Manchester and Lebanon programs is Tango Flight, an educational non-profit that specializes in student plane-building projects. Tango Flight procures the kits from manufacturer Van’s Aircraft, and also carries the liability insurance for the aircraft under construction and after completion and sale. Tango is involved with about 40 student plane-build programs around the country.

So the Aviation Museum and Tango Flight have a track record of success at the Manchester School of Technology, and we plan to take that to Lebanon High School this fall—but we need your help to do it!

With aviation and aerospace a key to the regional economy, supporters see the long-term value of the ‘Take Flight’ program at Lebanon High School, and how it will make a difference in the lives of young people. Join them and have your contribution doubled during NH Gives. Thank you and please give generously.

Friday, June 7: Plane-building ‘hangar’ takes shape; Hypertherm H.O.P.E. Foundation donates $10K to program

The future plane-building workshop at Lebanon High School is inspected by faculty members Bo Harwood and Tom Moore, who will lead the school’s ‘Take Flight’ student plane-building program.

A space to build planes! They’re already calling it “the hangar” at Lebanon (N.H.) High School, where renovations continue to transform a three-bay garage into the workshop for the new ‘Take Flight’ student plane-building program, which starts this coming September.

A visit on Friday, June 7 found interior renovations nearly complete, with the concrete floor freshly painted and all doors open to help drying. Meanwhile, workshop benches have been completed as a final school year project by students in the woodworking shop of Tom Moore, who will lead the plane-build project with fellow faculty member Bo Harwood.

Fundraising continues with a recent contribution of $10,000 from the Hypertherm H.O.P.E. Foundation. A big chance to for YOU help ‘Take Flight’ comes next week with a $10,000 matching campaign during this year’s NH Gives, which takes place June 11-12. (See info above).

Please give generously so we can max out this $10,000 match and make ‘Take Flight’ a reality!

Friday, May 31: Volunteer mentors inspect completed aircraft, visit Manchester workshop

Volunteer mentors from the new ‘Take Flight’ student plane-building program at Lebanon High School visited the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire on Friday, May 31 to inspect our student-built RV-12iS, and also visit the plane-building workshop at the Manchester School of Technology.

Andy Gelston and Harrison Silbert are two of about two dozen volunteer mentors from throughout the Upper Valley region who will help Lebanon High School students in the workshop when the school’s plane-building program begins in September.

The pair were joined on the ramp at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport by MST instructor Jeff Sullivan and Aviation Museum board members Bob Hough and Knans Hayes, who took photos.

‘Take Flight’ is a partnership between Lebanon High School, the non-profit Aviation Museum, and Tango Flight. To support the Lebanon student plane-building program, donate online via NH Gives on June 11-12 and your contribution will be doubled! (More info is found higher up on this page…)

Thursday, May 20: Helping Lebanon High students ‘Take Flight’

We’ve raised more than $200,000 already from foundations and businesses. Now it’s your turn! Make a contribution of any size and you’ll help us raise $300,000 in donations needed to establish the ‘Take Flight’ plane-building course at Lebanon High School.

How to donate? Do it online (see above) or check out info sheet below. Thank you!

Lebanon High School students in the the ‘Take Flight’ plane-building program speak to members of the Lebanon Rotary Club.

Thursday, May 16: Visiting Rotary

On Thursday, May 16, five students from the ‘Take Flight’ plane-building program at Lebanon High School visited the Lebanon Rotary Club. Students spoke about how the program will operate and their own personal expectations for it.

The student plane-building program is expected to take off in September 2024. It’s a partnership between the school district, the non-profit Aviation Museum of N.H., and Tango Flight, a non-profit that facilitates student plane-building programs.

Students fielded a wide range of questions from Rotary members. Thanks to the Rotary for welcoming us to their meeting and for the opportunity to speak about this innovative program. More photos below.

Wednesday, May 8: Prospective volunteer mentors attend Open House at Lebanon High School

Jeff Sullivan, instructor at the Manchester School of Technology, speaks about that school’s plane-building program.

On Wednesday, May 8, adult volunteers interested in mentoring students in the ‘Take Flight’ plane-building program at Lebanon High School attended in an introductory open house to learn more about the project.

Prospective mentors heard from Lebanon High School representatives, including Dr. Bonnie Robinson, the administrator leading the program, faculty members Bo Harwood and Tom Moore, and also several of the students in the program.

Also speaking about the program were representatives of the Aviation Museum of N.H., which is partnering with Lebanon High School to create the program, along with non-profit Tango Flight, which specializes in facilitating student plane-building programs.

The Aviation Museum and Tango Flight started a similar program in 2019 at the Manchester, N.H. School of Technology. On hand to share insights were Jeff Sullivan, the school’s Aviation CTE Instructor, as well as volunteer mentors Dee and Lianne Deranian, plus museum staffers Debbora Losch and Jeff Rapsis.

The next event for prospective mentors will be an informal visit to the Manchester workshop on Friday, May 31. More information is contained in the document below:

Below: More photos from the May 8 open house, plus a visit to the workshop in progress. Welcome mentors!

Lebanon High School students visit the plane-building workshop at the Manchester (N.H.) School of Technology in March 2024. Adult volunteer mentors are sought to help Lebanon’s students start building their own aircraft in September 2024.

Volunteer mentors open house to be held Wednesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. at Lebanon High School 

• Adult volunteer mentors sought to aid students in innovative hands-on plane-building program set to start this September

Want to help local high school students build an airplane? 

Then you’re invited to attend an upcoming plane-build Volunteer Mentor Open House on Wednesday, May 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Lebanon High School, 195 Hanover St., Lebanon.

At the open house, you’ll learn about Lebanon High School’s ‘Take Flight’ high school aircraft-building program. 

You’ll also find out how you can volunteer to help the brand new plane-building project starting this fall at Lebanon High School. 

All are welcome at the open house to learn about the ‘Take Flight’ program, in which a team of students will assemble a two-seat RV-12iS light sport aircraft from kits produced by Van’s Aircraft of Aurora, Ore. 

No special skills are required to be a volunteer mentor. Training in basic workshop skills and procedures will be offered, and anyone is encouraged to participate regardless of background. 

Volunteers with experience in home-built kit aircraft, airframe and powerplant systems, aerospace engineering, metal-working, manufacturing, assembly, and related fields are encouraged to attend. 

Starting in September, Lebanon’s ‘Take Flight’ plane-building program will run each school day for a two-hour block in mid-day, prior to the school’s lunch period. 

It’s expected to take students two school years to complete one aircraft. Following FAA certification, the finished aircraft will then be sold on the open market, with proceeds used to fund the next plane build. 

Throughout the build, adult volunteer mentors play a critical role in guiding students through the steps and procedures needed to assemble the aircraft. Volunteers provide needed encouragement, coaching, and help students understand how STEM learning applies to the world beyond the classroom.

Volunteer mentors participate on a flexible basis and typically visit the workshop once or twice a week. Participation is flexible to meet the schedules of those participating. 

“Being a volunteer mentor in the ‘Take Flight’ plane-building program is a great way for people in the community to bring their knowledge and experience into the school system,” said Bonnie Robinson, curriculum director at Lebanon High School. “If it sounds interesting, we encourage you to attend the open house and find out more.”

‘Take Flight’ is a partnership between the Lebanon School District, the non-profit Aviation Museum of N.H., and educational non-profit Tango Flight, which specializes in facilitating student plane-build projects.

Lebanon’s ‘Take Flight’ program is based on a successful student plane-building program the Aviation Museum started with the Manchester (N.H.) School of Technology in 2019. Manchester students completed their first airplane in 2022 and are currently about half-way through building their second aircraft.

Jeff Sullivan, an aviation instructor and plane-build manager in Manchester, will attend Lebanon’s Open House to answer questions and speak about the project. Several mentors from the Manchester program are also expected to attend.

“For the ‘Take Flight’ student plane-building program, the most important quality we’re looking for in volunteer mentors is the readiness to join in an adventure that is making a difference in the lives of area young adults,” Sullivan said.

No local school district tax money is used in the plane-build program, which is funded by grants and donations made through the Aviation Museum, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Aviation Museum is currently running a campaign to raise $250,000 in start-up funds needed to establish the ‘Take Flight’ program at Lebanon High School.

The program is part of the Aviation Museum’s youth education outreach program, which aims to encourage young people to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace.

Mentors are regarded as volunteers for the non-profit Aviation Museum of N.H., but must follow all district policies while participating in a build. Volunteer mentors are also subject to criminal background checks similar to all school district volunteers.

“With the ‘Take Flight’ plane-build program just starting, it’s a great time for new people to get involved. You’ll get the satisfaction of helping kids with a memorable project, and learn a lot yourself,” said Jeff Rapsis, the Aviation Museum’s executive director. 

The Aviation Museum, based in the 1937 art deco passenger terminal at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, is dedicated to preserving the Granite State’s rich aviation past, and also inspiring today’s students to become the aerospace pioneers of tomorrow.

If you plan to attend the open house on Wednesday, May 8, please call (603) 669-4877 and leave a message with your name, or send an e-mail to ldearborn@nhahs.org.

“Volunteering as a plane-build mentor is a rewarding way to give back to the community, and help light the spark of aviation in people young and old,” Rapsis said.

“As a side benefit, volunteers become part of a family that can lead to new friendships and opportunities,” Rapsis said.

The Aviation Museum of N.H., located at 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, N.H., is a non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

Lebanon High School students enrolled in the ‘Take Flight’ program, along with faculty and administrators, visiting the Aviation Museum of N.H. on March 22, 2024 after visiting the plane-building workshop at the Manchester School of Technology workshop.

Students are scheduled to start construction of their first aircraft in September 2024.

Follow along below as we chronicle the progress of building a plane!

Friday, March 22: Lebanon students visit workshop in Manchester, Aviation Museum

On Friday, March 22, the 14 students enrolled in Lebanon High School’s ‘Take Flight’ plane-building program visited the workshop at the Manchester (N.H.) School of Technology, where students have been building airplanes since 2019.

It was the first visit since Lebanon was chosen by the Aviation Museum for a student plane-building program, which will start in September 2024. Students for the program were selected earlier this year after an application and interview process.

At the Manchester School of Technology, Lebanon students, faculty, and administrators were welcomed by MST Principal Tim Otis and Aviation CTE Instructor Jeff Sullivan. They then visited the classroom and plane-building workshop, where they met many of the Manchester plane-building students and volunteers.

Afterwards, the group then visited the Aviation Museum of N.H. at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, where they tried the museum’s flight simulator and enjoyed a pizza lunch before heading back to Lebanon.

In Lebanon, work continues renovating the three-bay garage that will house the plane-building program. Also, the first open house to recruit volunteer mentors to help students in the plane-build will be held in early May. Stay tuned!

Saturday, Feb. 3: Lebanon High students visit Aviation Museum

Surprise visitors! Saturday, Feb. 3 saw three students from Lebanon (N.H.) High School travel down I-89 to check out the museum—and see the crates that contain pieces of the airplane they’ll soon be building.

That’s right! Next September, students at Lebanon High in the state’s Upper Valley region will embark on ‘Take Flight,’ a plane-building program modeled on the one that the Aviation Museum helped start at the Manchester (N.H.) School of Technology.

In partnership with the museum and Tango Flight, students will assemble a two-seat Van’s RV-12iS light sport aircraft. Aided by Lebanon High faculty and working alongside volunteer mentors, students will have the unrivaled hands-on experience of building a real airplane!

As in Manchester, when the airplane is completed (a process that’s expected to take two years), it’ll be sold on the open market, with proceeds going to fund the next aircraft build. For now, follow along as Lebanon High juniors Kyle Hines, Laura Hines, and Sully Merrill explore the museum.