This class will expose students to aviation through hands-on learning activities in science, math, engineering, and technology. Students will learn about factors that affect flight, such as weather and the atmosphere, forces of flight, and aircraft instruments.

Activities include presentations of course work, scientific investigations, simulated flight training, field experiences, and career exposure.


It all started with Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kittyhawk, but boy have we come a long way. With over a 100 years of powered flight there sure is a lot to take in when it comes to learning about the sources of that power. But our Encore students took a great first step in understanding about aviation power plants.

Today, we learned about the types of engines that have been powering fight since the Wright Brothers and the Wright Flyer. The discussion focused on the two main types of engines in popular use- the piston driven engine and the jet engine. WE learned about the different stages in the piston cycle and about the basic concept of jet power. We added to our aviation vocabulary, and took in a couple of videos to see the different types of engines in action. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and we’ll see you next time!

Welcome back Encore Aviators! After taking a welcome winter break, our Encore aviators are back in action. To get things refreshed, we kicked things off with a review video of how lift is generated, and how Bernoulli’s Principle and Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion apply to aerodynamics.

And just to make sure the knowledge stays for the long haul, we rounded out the session with a quiz on topics we learned before the winter break.
We’ve got just a few more classes left this semester, so we’re going to pack in as much information as our brains can absorb!

This week we continued our exploration of rotorcraft and small unmanned aerial systems with a look at how aircraft can go from idea to production through the process of drawings. Students learned the difference between what makes a concept drawing and what constitutes a technical drawing. All aviation assemblies, from the whole aircraft to the individual components, begin as an idea and it’s up to specialized artists to create the concept and technical drawings that will lead to the manufacture of each part.

Students tried their own hand at the concept drawing by creating their own version of a small unmanned aircraft, otherwise known as a drone. We will continue with technical drawings at our next meet.

Today students got an introduction to a very current and popular aspect of aviation – rotorcraft and small unmanned aerial systems, otherwise known as “drones”. Rotorcraft differ from fixed wing aircraft in some very interesting ways. While they have many similarities in how the forces of flight apply, their propulsion and control systems require a very different approach to learning and application.
We took the lecture lesson to the flight simulators immediately and had each student try their hand at controlling a virtual helicopter through a set course. As the students learned, there is a steep difference in how airplanes and helicopters handle.
equipment & helos

We also had some hands-on time with radio controlled helicopters and a small quadcopter to see in real life how the forces of flight come in to play.

We will continue our exploration of rotor flight in the next class.

This week in class we had a special visit from the great folks at the Freedom Museum at Manassas Regional Airport. The Freedom Museum has displays and artifacts ranging from WWII to current conflicts abroad, and were kind enough to bring some of the museum experience to campus. Students got to see some of those artifacts and documents first hand as they heard stories about some of the experiences of servicemen and women of the time. Also on hand was a wartime ambulance that the students got to sit in and feel from a first person perspective.
Aviation picture
As we learn about modern aviation, it great to be able to experience some of the history that helped us arrive where we are today.

Plan your flight- fly your plan
. We’ve reached that point in the aviation encore class where students are taking control of their flights in more advanced ways. The basics have been covered, reviewed and covered again, and it’s time to put the pieces together.
aviation flight plan
When planning for any flight, be it a single engine pleasure flight or a transcontinental flight to an exotic corner of the world, all the elements are the same. Weight, weather fuel, time, aerodynamics; all factors that apply to all flights.

So today, students learned about the navigation log (NavLog), and how that becomes the written plan for taking to the skies. We learned about way points in a flight path and applied previous lessons on calculating different factors of flight.
We’ll keep adding to the skills and keep encouraging exploration of flight!


In Thursday’s class we explored aviation weather a little further and reviewed many of the concepts previously covered. By now , the students have gained a grasp of the complexities of flight and the need to build multi-tasking skills. As always the flight simulator time was spent further honing those skills, however this time we travelled out of our usual airspace and explored the New York skylines from the virtual cockpit, and in a networked setting so that all airplanes were visible to one another along with a projected view of the virtual air traffic control tower.

It’s great to see everyone learning and retaining!

This week we began a study of weather as it pertains to the safe operation of aircraft in the airspace system. We looked at the elements of weather such as wind, temperature, and precipitation. A short video of airplanes landing in extreme wind conditions underscored the importance of understanding the capabilities and limitations of both man and machine. In the video we saw how strong winds can move tons of aircraft around as though it were light as a tin can.

Aviation simulatorWe discussed the origins of weather patterns and how all weather activity is a result of heating and cooling of air masses.

To experience the effects of weather in flight, we set our flight simulator weather settings to thunderstorm conditions and each student tried his hand at landing under high wind and low visibility.

We will continue our exploration of flight and weather for another class period or two and then begin bringing all of the learned skills into a fun and challenging flight for the whole class.


Today in our Aviation Encore class, we continued to build on our navigation skills and map reading. We refreshed our understanding of the latitude and longitude grid system before unfolding our aviation maps and applying the lessons learned from our previous session. A quick overview using Google Earth and the grid overlay helped bring the concepts into focus.

Aviation students
As future aviators, it’s important that an understanding of navigation concepts begin early on and continue throughout a professional or recreational flying career. Students realized quickly just how much information is condensed into a standard aviation sectional map, but everyone did a fantastic job of pinpointing locations and airports, and identifying lat/long coordinates.

As usual, this is another building block as we build skill sets that are just as useful outside of the cockpit as they are in it, and students are finding their focus sharpening as the lessons increase in complexity. 


Students put on their math caps and dove into some basic calculations for determining time, speed, and distance variables in a given flight. Students were given a the formulas for determining a number of flight calculations, then turned their attention to some flight simulation to put the newfound math skills to practice.

Aviation calculations

For this week’s round of piloting the virtual skies, we set aside the stick and rudder skills for a moment and focused our attention on more cerebral aspects of aviating. As we move along each week, students have been building on the skills sets of each previous lesson, and this week we added the skill of calculating time, speed, and distance and identified why knowing how to do so was of vital importance to every aviator.

Also in this week’s lessons we began learning how to navigate the airways above. Using aviation-specific sectional maps, we learned about airways, airspace 
Aviation equipmentclassifications, how to identify terrain features and, how to pinpoint location using latitude and longitude coordinates.

We’ll be continuing our exploration of navigation concepts and map reading skills in the next class period.

Instructor:  Mr. Urista

Aviation class

Aviation class