Planes, brains and navigational skills



Amid the roar of single-engine aircraft and the odor of plane fuel in the air, Tenaya School fifth, sixth and seventh graders learned about aviation hands on.

The hangars at Pine Mountain Lake Airport were thrown open for the visitors, and plane owners and enthusiasts led students through aviation-oriented activities.

Rand Siegfried, a Pine Mountain Lake resident, said hopes to start a Wild Blue Wonder program on campus, in which students would learn to navigate, plot courses and fly in simulations.

"There is, of course, the obvious math, science and navigation, but aviation is the unifying theme," Siegfried said.

After studying aviation for months at school, Tenaya students would compete in a regional Wild Blue Wonder competition, similar to the academic decathlon, Principal Don Moore said.

But first the team needs members.

"We're here to pique their interest about aviation," Moore said.

A box of balsa-wood gliders was waiting for students at Larry Struck's hangar, where he spends his time repairing planes.

As students assembled the small gliders and tried to get them to crash in midair, Struck explained airplane mechanics, demonstrating on his Cessna 180 and a disemplaned engine. He also told students that if they wanted to fly, there are ways around the high cost of buying and maintaining a plane.

"There's places you can go and learn to fly," he said. "And if you're really interested in aviation, there's ways to fly."

After the lesson, pairs of students clambered into the cockpit, pretending to bank the plane and steer it under a bridge.

Other stations taught students about navigation, machining airplane parts and the history of flight.

Students ate their lunch in front of Kent and Sandy Blankenbury's two hangars, both packed with antique aircraft and memorabilia.

While Sandy ran back and forth keeping the lemonade flowing, Kent answered students' questions about the antique planes. The Lockheed Electra 12A, for instance, has 3,300,000 miles on it, and Kent and Sandy expect to put twice that number on it.

The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Wednesday October 26, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Paying the price


Chris Lusardi, of Sonora, is one of thousands of Tuolumne County residents ... more

New oak disease spreads from coast to foothills


A deadly fungus killing oak trees along the coasts of central and ... more

Columbia Elementary board ousts superintendent


Five days after receiving a 2 percent raise, Columbia Union School District ... more

Mudslide knocks out a portion of TUD’s ditch system


The Columbia ditch will be closed until Saturday, following a mudslide that ... more

Battle for cannabis regulation in Calaveras wages on


Strong opinions and loud accusations have made the battle over cannabis cultivation ... more