Published: 00:01, 14 July 2014
High-flying pupils could soon be taking to the skies – in an aeroplane they have built themselves.
Design technology students at Sutton Valence School are about to start a two-year project to make a replica of a Fokker Eindecker – a First World War plane built by the Germans in 1915.
The single-seater aircraft will be created to three-quarter scale, meaning it can be flown by anyone over the age of 16 who holds a microlight licence. It is thought to be the only such project at a school.
Head of design technology Dan Keep said: "The enthusiasm for the project has become infectious.
"We are trying to show our students, in a practical way, just how far aviation technology has advanced in 100 years.
"It is almost unbelievable to think that these planes were built for war, but they were to prove to be an inspiration to future generations of aircraft builders."
The Royal Aeronautical Society has provided links to engineers for advice and support.
Sutton Valence pupils will tackle the wings, while Year 7 and 8 children at St Ronan's Prep School at Hawkhurst will be working on the fuselage.
The engine is made off-site and is added later.
The £20,000 project has been funded by donations from the Froud family and companies, but the school is also looking to local businesses for support.
Those involved are aiming high, with the Fokker forming the first part of a four-year plan.
The North Street school plans to follow it up with the building of a replica Sopwith Camel – a British single-seater plane introduced on the Western Front in 1917.
The ultimate dream is for pupils to exhibit the Fokker nationally and to fly the two planes as part of a flypast at the Armistice Centenary in 2018.
The British Microlight Aircraft Association will inspect the aircraft to industry standards and Headcorn Aerodrome has offered to store it when it outgrows the school workshops.
Headmaster Bruce Grindlay said: "It is tremendously exciting to be the first school in Britain to be involved in this sort of project."
Inventor: Anthony Fokker
Models built: 420
First blight: 1915
Phased out: During 1916, when rival planes bought the dominance of the Eindecker to an end
Maximum speed: 87mph
Famous aces: "Father of Air Fighting Tactics" Oswald Boelcke and the first flying ace Max Immelmann who had 15 aerial victories
Notable specifications: The first aircraft which enabled the machine gun to be fired through the spinning propeller. Planes that fought against it were known as "Fokker Fodder" due to the minimal chance of survival
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