Thursday, May 19, 2011

Soaring on Paper Wings!

Wednesday night marked the end of the year for our RA group at church.  It has been a great year with some great kids.  We will pick back up in a couple of months when school starts back and we are already planning on expanding our program to include more outdoor activities that encourage the boys to participate in different projects.  We try to make it fun for them, but we also require them to do the work.  One of the things that I think that we do well is reward the kids that put forth the effort.  For example, this little glider that you see here was built by Reid and me.  He got to build this because he completed his Missions folder for the year and also completed his requirements for his Athletic patch that is placed on his chart in the RA room.  To complete the Athletic patch requirements, he had to do 200 push ups, sit ups and leg raises.  The boys have all year to get this done.  They can come in and do 10 or 20 a week of each one and eventually get to 200.  Out of Reid's age group, we had 4 boys complete both their folder and receive their athletic patch.  That meant that 4 boys got a chance to put together a glider and fly them on the last Wednesday of RA's.

These little gliders can be found in a kit by White Wings.  The wings are cut out and glued together and then glued onto the body of the plane.  This was our first attempt at building one of these planes and we really did not have any directions to go by, as our Sr. RA leader provided the materials but couldn't find copies of the instructions.  I tried to build it strong with some extra glue as I figured some mighty big crash landings were in this little plane's foreseeable future.  We flew it in the yard a few times and I told Reid not to expect too much.  I could throw it about 30 or 40 feet, but it was definitely not gliding gracefully.  I was curious as to what it would do once it was placed on a rubber band launcher.  You can see the hook on the bottom of the plane where the band can be attached for launch.  We loaded up the little plane and hoped for the best.

When we got to church the first thing Mr. Larry (Sr. RA leader) said to us was that we had our wings glued on backwards.  Well there was no changing that now and I told him that my good buddy Hal would be arriving with the same problem.  He brought his son's plane over to compare to Reid's to see how to put it together.  We ended up with only 3 planes to fly and two of them had backwards wings.  This was not looking good.  It got worse for one kid!

The competition for "Plane of the Year" was simple.  All planes would be measured for distance flown and time in flight.  Records would be kept and the name of the winner would be displayed on the records board for the next year.  Our fist contestant gave his plane to Mr. Larry to launch from the rubber band launcher.  As Larry let the plane fly, the plane's tail wing caught on the launching stick and broke the plane in half.  The kid had glued his tail wings to the bottom of the plane body instead of the top.  The kid was crushed and Mr. Larry spent the next few minutes trying to complete a patch job (or a small miracle).  He gave me the launcher and Hal took the measuring tape.

I took Reid's little plane in hand and gave the rubber band a mighty pull.  The plane ducked and dived to respectable 67 feet.  We hooked up the next plane and it flew pretty close to the same distance.  I kept launching the little planes at different angles trying to get that one great flight.  We got  up to around 100ft, but we were only getting about 8 seconds of flight time.  Mr. Larry returned with the patched up plane and saw the troubles we were having.  He showed me a few little tweaks for the wings and I loaded up the next glider.  Off she went and set sail.  We got her out to 150 feet and had her in the air for about 18 seconds.  The kids were going nuts.  I took Reid's glider in hand and made the same little adjustments to the wings.  When I shot it into the air I knew we were going to be tough to beat.  It flew straight up into the air and started gliding down in a straight line path riding the wind as it went.  The final tally of that one flight was 177 feet and an air time of 22 seconds.  Reid won "The Plane of the Year"!  His glider will be displayed all year in the RA room as a reminder of his accomplishment.  Just imagine what we could have done if his wings were actually on the plane the correct way!!

I like stuff like this.  This was a simple little project that Reid and I could share together and have some fun doing.  I just ordered us a glider making kit so that we can continue to have some fun this summer.  I found it at under White Wing Gliders.  It was only $19.00 but I can guarantee you that we will get more than $19 worth of fun out of it.

RA's has been good for Reid this year.  It has been good for me also.  We have learned to tie knots, race Pinewood Derby cars and fly gliders, but we have also learned about being good missionaries for God and what it means to be graceful, thankful, good Christian young men.  Mr. Larry has been teaching these boys for several years and I am glad that I was able to come back on board after a few years off.  I found that I have missed seeing the boys each week and trying to make a difference in their Christian lives.  I hope that they will take what we are trying to teach them each week and learn to soar higher than these paper airplanes.  They all have so much potential to accomplish whatever God has laid out before them.  I just hope that we have given them enough to see that if they keep Jesus in their life and put him first, anything is possible. 

Even a record setting paper glider with backward wings!


The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

Very nice, now get to work on #5...

Trey said...

It's actually #4 that you want Mr. President. Don't worry, I'll get around to it eventually!

The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

You've been so long I thought I had already given you number five... look forward to #4 next year...

Steve said...


Making gliders is a great way to learn to tinker with things to get another result. My father would buy blank balsa wood for my brother and I to build our planes with. Imaginations would run wild and research about historical planes gave us ideas for new planes. Certainly learned what works and what doesn't.

Thank you for the reminders. Hope you and Reid will build many to come.