LACONIA — Students in a Laconia High School summer school program flew airplanes they had designed yesterday as part of the Electric Powered Cargo Plane Challenge.
The aircraft, powered by a small electric motor with a plastic propeller, were tethered to a power pole which supplied electrical power to the airplanes, which were controlled in the library by the students through a remote controller as they attempted to take off and land.
''It's a hands-on activity but the students have to use math in building the planes and calculating how much cargo they can carry,'' said Amanda Stefanik, educational coordinator for LHS summer school, which is a Project EXTRA! funded activity designed to afford after school and summer school educational opportunities.
Students design and construct an electrically powered model aircraft which must complete at least one flight lap without cargo and then they add weights and see if the aircraft can complete a lap with the added cargo.
Students were provided with a ready made fuselage as well as motor and landing gear, but had to design and build the wings and tail structure of the aircraft.
''It was pretty complicated,'' said Ryan Garneau, who chose an elliptical wing design for his aircraft which seemed to have problems providing enough lift to consistently circle around the power pole.
Noah Ford had more success with his aircraft, which had a trapezoidal wing design and was able to carry as many as nine of the half-ounce weights on a full lap around the power pole.
Stefanik said the cargo plane challenge will become a part of the school's learning activities and that students will be able to take part in regional and national competitions.