Future Flyers, an annual aviation education course sponsored by the Santa Barbara Airport, celebrated the 2008 session with an airplane flying contest at the Airport Visitors Center on Tuesday.  Student teams from local sixth-grade classes built airplanes and challenged each other in a “fly-off” to see who could build a balsa aircraft that could fly the highest and longest.

The Future Flyers course is coordinated by Tim Lawton, airport community education liaison, over a six-week period as a component of the airport’s tour program that hosts more than 5,000 students each year.

The Future Flyer students participated in the course, taught by local aviation experts, at the airport and learned about the history of aviation, the four forces of flight, aviation weather, and airport operations.  To demonstrate their learning experience, they built rubber band-powered balsa airplanes with multiple propellers and landing gear.  Parents attended the “fly-off” celebration and local aviators judged the contest.

This year’s best of show and winning team of the “Wings of Triumph Trophy” were three students from Hollister School flying an aircraft they named the F-60. It was built and modified from a Guillows No. 51 glider kit.  Although weather was challenging during the event, the F-60 climbed to more than 25 feet and in spite of strong headwinds flew more than 45 feet to win this year’s best balsa model aircraft.  Susan Croshaw was the GATE instructor who guided the winning project.

For more information or questions about joining the next local sixth-grade Future Flyers course for the 2008-2009 school year, contact Lawton at 805.964.7622.

— Terri Gibson is the Santa Barbara Airport‘s marketing and communications director.