Design, build and fly: EHOVE summer campers take to the sky

Cary Ashby • Jun 26, 2016 at 8:00 AM

PERKINS TOWNSHIP — As aerospace engineer Brian Willis watched the middle-schoolers from afar, he could tell what the youngsters needed to do to improve the planes.

Willis said he knew if one of the campers made their foam-board plane too heavy or if the weight wasn’t distributed correctly. As a liaison with the NASA Plum Brook station, he teaches fabrication techniques to the participants in the EHOVE Career Center summer camps. 

The experience should help the campers learn how to use a glue gun, follow directions and even how to use the laser cutter and engraver at the EHOVE Fab Lab, said Willis, who marks his 34th year with NASA at the end of June.

“If you don’t construct it properly, it’s never going to fly right,” he said. “A lot of it is in the release.”

Recently, Huron resident Ray Ozmun demonstrated how to fly a remote-controlled helicopter. He made the brightly colored aircraft do loops and even fly backwards at an angle.

“If you have someone who is really good, they can blow your mind,” said Ozmun, who has been doing radio-controlled work on and off for 10 years.

A member of a group covering Erie, Huron and Ottawa counties, he created the helicopter from a kit. The project took him about 20 hours.

“I enjoy working on these as much as I do flying them,” Ozmun said. 

EHOVE requested Ozmun demonstrate his skills to the campers.

“I’ve been doing that for at least three years,” he said. “It could be a lifetime hobby (for these campers). It could lead to a profession.

“I’ve done a lot of things in my life. It’s something I can always come back to,” Ozmun added.

In a field behind the engineering building, students launched their planes by hand. Some had greater success — flying for longer periods of time — than others.

Sara Skaff, 11, was the only girl in the group of boys. The Perkins Middle School student joined the EHOVE camp because she enjoys science.

“I just like learning how things work,” she said.

Skaff was asked how well her plane has performed.

“I think it has been flying well. I think it glided in the air pretty well,” she said.

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