It’s no secret that the country faces a shortage of pilots. Westminster is doing its part to spark the interest of young minds to pursue an education in STEM and a career in aviation. Students from Westminster’s Engineering Program, the third-year aerospace engineering class, took a trip to the Homestead General Aviation Airport to fly in gliders.
Before the field trip, the students studied the physics and mechanics of flight and applied this knowledge to gliders.
Student also used Aery software to design, construct, and test a dynamically stable wooden glider. They investigated design parameters necessary for a successful flight and practiced adjusting variables such as fuselage length, wing location, nose mass, wing taper ratio, and vertical tail height.
At Miami Gliders, licensed pilot and Westminster alumna, Julia Brown ‘22, gave an overview of the L-23 Super Blanik glider components and control surfaces. After strapping in safely, and being launched by a towplane, Brown flew each student one at a time in the two-seater aircraft. Students got to experience coordinated turns, fly-overs, and level flight at 2,000 feet in the air.
“It was a memorable experience. I enjoyed observing their reactions during my flight; it made me happy to see them happy,” added Brown.
Brown is a graduate of Westminster’s Engineering Program and a licensed pilot. She is currently a glider flight instructor and a tow pilot for Miami Gliders. Brown has over 1,300 hours of flying time, 285 of which are in gliders.
Back on the ground, students also viewed the inside of the towplane, a Piper Pawnee, flown by licensed pilot Johan Martinez. Students enjoyed connecting their study of flight navigation by seeing a real cockpit and GPS instrumentation.