Aerospace Scholars Take Eclipse Trip

September 11, 2013

Opinion

By Cameron Coe

Yesterday the Aerospace Engineering class embarked onto the bus that was to take us to Eclipse Aerospace, one of the most famous personal plane manufactures in the world.

By 12:17 the bus was off and you could hear the students yell out the windows, “Farewell friends, perhaps I will see you in another life!” This was the first of many times Ms. Barela would roll her eyes along the trip.eclipse aero logo

On the way to Eclipse, Project Manager Paul Stephenson explained that the purpose of this trip was to form an educational partnership and enhance the Aerospace Program at ASK Academy. Eclipse was developed to create cheap, personal planes that would sell for under a million dollars each. Unfortunately, that business plan put the company into bankruptcy. Then, two buyers with a similar vision of cheap air travel took over the company and managed to make it work.

Near the end of the bus ride, the majority of the class entertained themselves by dancing to Harlem Shake music on the highway (we received some strange looks).

At last we arrived at Eclipse. It took about five minutes to maneuver through the parking lot and our bus driver attempted a U-turn after taking a wrong turn, holding up company traffic. There to greet us was employee David Barbour, who happens to be the younger brother of ASK’s very own Dan Barbour. He wasn’t the one to guide our tour, although he greeted Mr. Stephenson warmly. Soon, our tour guide Jay came in. Just as the tour was about to begin, we watched as a customer came in to pick up his jet. We all thought it was pretty interesting that someone in Albuquerque could afford a personal jet.

After a review of the company’s history, we were off to the assembly line for the jets. We watched every phase of the plane being worked on in front of us in an enormous warehouse.

After the walkthrough of the assembly, we walked by a set of six or seven pairs of wings imported from Japan that were being prepared to be placed on the jets. Then we headed to the paint shop – this was where the client’s choice of design finished off their personal jet. The numerous options to paint the jets came in all colors of the rainbow.

At one point, a camera crew was just around the corner filming an advertisement to sell a 550 model. After walking through a work space where flight calculations were being conducted, we boarded the bus and headed home.

The field trip was inspiring, and it was interesting to think about ways in which we could improve ASK’s aerospace program. Eventually, we would like to get a wind tunnel for our school, which would help test our designs in flight.

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