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North High students to build an airplane thanks to Airbus partnership

North High students to build an airplane thanks to Airbus partnership 

Airbus Flying Challenge at North High Wichita Public Schools has announced a partnership with Airbus to give high school students the opportunity to earn real-world experience in aviation manufacturing through Airbus’ Flying Challenge Program. 

North High juniors and seniors in the district’s Aerospace Engineering Pathway will build, and fly in, a two-seat airplane that will eventually be sold. Students will get hands-on learning opportunities and mentoring from Airbus engineers and will receive dual credit through WSU Tech. 

Tango Flight, a nonprofit organization based in Texas, partners with Airbus to make the program possible. The organization assists with curriculum development and facilitates the sale of completed plane to generate funds that help sustain the program after the first year in a participating district.

Click here to watch a video news story about the program.

The program is housed in the Future Ready Center, formerly the Dillons supermarket at 13th and Waco across the street from North High and WPS is one of 13 school districts in the US to participate in the Airbus program. 

“Programs like this allow us to provide students with an industry standard setting so they’re prepared with real-world skills to enter the work force,” said Kelly Bielefeld, executive director of College and Career Readiness at Wichita Public Schools. “These students will end up with eight college credit hours, so not only are they getting ready for the workplace, they’ll have a good start on their next step after high school.” 

Pete Cole, an engineering project leader at Airbus who serves as a mentor in the program, says that the program’s goal is to give students a taste of what it’s like to manufacture an airplane from start to finish. 

“They get a sense of achievement and confidence,” Cole said. “There’s not only the ability to use your hands to build the airplane, they’re developing leadership and team skills where they help each other and share the tools, they share the learning experiences and they share the success.”

Emmanuel Gallardo, a North High senior in the engineering pathway at North High who plans to pursue a career in architectural engineering after high school, is excited for the opportunity to build an airplane. 

“It’s been great learning new skills and getting to see the final project,” Gallardo said. 

Bielefeld says the district plans to expand CTE programs in the Future Ready Center in the next 18 months to provide students with more access to the tools they’ll need to be productive workers for our community.

WPS offers 26 career and technical education pathways at its high schools. To learn more about CTE opportunities for students, go to