A group of girls are taking part in a project where they are spending one evening each week building a microlight.
This engineering project has been run with the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) as part of the organisation’s New Horizons scheme. The BMAA funds the project and the school is responsible for building the aircraft.
The BMAA owns the microlight and will sell it when the project is finished, with proceeds going back into the New Horizons scheme. However before this girls will get a chance to fly in it themselves!
The BMAA New Horizons project is available to all schools and colleges, independent or state.
Benenden took part in a similar project in that culminated in 2018.
The girls have been keeping a blog of their progress, and we are pleased to share it with you below:
Benenden Builds a Microlight!
12 March 2020
This week, we worked on two key aspects of the plane:
Attaching the piping to the fuel tank
We attached the piping to the fuel tank which is necessary to ensure that there are no leakages of fuel. To do this, we tightened the pipes to the tanks themselves, aided by the use of a 'hairdryer' - or a very hot heat gun (with temperatures upwards of 245 degrees C!). This enabled us to soften the pipe and put it on the tank easily. Then, we attached the filter to both tubes, cable tying them together to the plane.
Teardrop spats on the wheels
Then, we filed down the t eardrop spats to ensure they would conform to the size and shape of the wheels. To do this, we used a drill will a file on the end, protecting ourselves with masks and goggles. We had to keep checking to make sure that we didn't overdo it and were within the lines drawn on the spat.
5 March 2020
Finally we could sit inside the frame of the Microlight! The chairs were finally finished and we pinned them into place for the first time. If we were careful, we could climb up into them, making sure we didn't step on the unsupported areas of the carpet.
From here we could test moving parts of the plane, watch the tail move and the pedals work. It was so rewarding, especially after all the effort it took to get the seats into a position where the pins would not collide with the bars, not to mention how difficult it was to connect the fuel tanks together!
27 February 2020
This week one group set both wheel hubs up properly with bolts tightened to 20 newton metres. They then put some pink paint on it, which is tamper proof marker paint.
Another group set the rudder up as well as the rudder cables and we used the stick control for the elevators and the rudder. This back part of the plane is called the empennage. The last group was in charge of doing a lot of bolt tightening and setting up cable runs.
30 January 2020
In our ninth week, one group put together the structure for the seats of the aircraft while another changed many of the wingnuts for the bolts, used locktight glue on the bolts and painted them pink to show that they are finalized.
The handle which is used to control the rudders was made and the handle for the brake was installed onto the bar which had been made the previous week using soap as a lubricant to ease the foam handle onto the bar.
23 January 2020
Many tasks covering a large proportion of the microlight were performed. Firstly, a team of students with the aid of a pop-rivet gun attached components of the rudder together. This was done with precision to ensure that each of the marked and drilled holes where aligned creating a sturdy structure which would not be affected by harsh weather conditions.
In addition to this, components of the steering rod where assembled in accordance to several diagrams visible in the Microlight manual. This was a tedious process as we quickly realised the great importance of paying close attention to ensure that the correct parts were fitted in the intended order.
16 January 2020
Each wheel was bolted to the plane by three separate groups. The nose wheel was the hardest wheel to attach because we had to balance the frame of the plane using a toolbox in order to fix it correctly. We used allen keys to fix the wheel to the plane.
9 January 2020
We spent the majority of our time double checking our progress so far. We checked all of the nuts and bolts were in the correct place and had been tightened enough. We sealed some of them with a fixative and marked these with a pink paint to show they were finished.
We also carpeted the floor of the cabin using a spray glue to attach the fabric to the base. We later drilled holes in this so that we could attach it to the frame.
3 December 2019
We focused on fixing together the engine support which will be at the very front of our microlight aircraft, and it involves the construction of the upper engine mount and the upper and lower triangulation tubes which helps to hold the engine mount in place, while the other groups were working on the construction of the fuselage frame, the installation of the floor and cutting a space on the floor to fit the battery box.
We roughly fitted parts of the mounting bracket and the engine mount plates, and they will eventually link the upper and lower triangulation tubes and the fuselage frame together.
In the beginning, our group found reading the manual quite challenging but we are gradually getting better at understanding how the part of the aircraft roughly looks and the order of the components that should be used.
After working together as a group for several weeks, we have established a collaborative working routine by having one or two people operate the construction while the other team members help to hold the other components in place. Furthermore, we also used photographs to helps us to record the order of the washers and tubes which truly made our work easier in the following week, as a weeklong gap is enough to make us unfamiliar with the structure that we are working on.