Students working on a plane in class

“It was heavy. It was fun to build,” said Unity Reed High School junior, Caelum, about the single engine airplane that now resides in one of his classrooms. For aviation instructor, Scott Kenney, a chance encounter during a videoconference resulted in a dream donation to Unity Reed High’s popular Career and Technical Education course, Aviation Maintenance. “One of the gentlemen on the Zoom call, owned this plane, and was looking to donate it to a school,” said Kenney, who seized the opportunity to give the Viking Dragonfly MK1 aircraft a new home at Unity Reed.

The disassembled plane arrived this past August, and the year-one students as Kenny described, “actually took the plane off of a cradle, and put it all together.” “I built a majority of this with Mr. Kenney,” said Caelum, proudly. “I got to hook up the under-part of the wing. I got to put the front propeller on and see how the engine operated. I got to go deep into the chassis and really get my hands dirty!”

Unity Reed senior, Jocelyn, who will be continuing her aviation industry training after graduation, added that, “It’s my first year of being in the aviation program, so at first it was a bit overwhelming, but it got easier as time went on. I helped whoever was working in the cockpit, making sure that they had the right materials to take anything out from there.”

Fellow classmate and senior, Hamza, added that “Everyone specialized in different roles. I was way better with coordinating everything, and there were some students who were better with the mechanics.”

Prince William County Public Schools’ aviation maintenance programs at both Unity Reed and Woodbridge High Schools have experienced soaring enrollment. The program is now two blocks, so students have three hours of class time.” In addition, companies like United Airlines are offering internships, which allows graduates of the program to enter the workforce after high school.