Microlight Project

This summer a group of girls took to the air in an aircraft they built themselves as part of an exciting project that was run by the School.

The School teamed up with the British Microlight Aircraft Association for the initiative which saw the girls construct and design the exterior of a Sky Ranger Swift Fixed Wing Microlight.

The group of 28 girls, who were selected following an application process at the School, spent time each Thursday evening building the aircraft. They started construction in September 2016.

Microlight Project - An Overview

View below our video showing the making of the Microlight and the official test flight.

The Microlight Project Blog

As well as building their own aircraft the girls have also been keeping a blog to update us of their progress. Thanks to Claire, Millie, Fernanda and Mariesa for writing the blog.

15 March - The Last Leg

​​With only a couple finishing touches left to add to our m​​​icrolight, we are all getting pumped up for our chance to fly the plane at Headcorn on 29 April! To celebrate, Mr Commander, Welly and Angus brought cupcakes with aeroplane decorations on them- thank you!​

To showcase our almost finished work, I decided to take a photo of the entire plan​​​​e- somehow, Dharanee, Zara, Ingrid, and their various identical sisters all made it into the photo!​​​

23 February - Knock Knock!

​Who's there?​

Zara, Harriet and Ade finishing the rivets joining the door frame to the piec​​​e of polycarbonate we have been working on the past couple of weeks!​

Meanwhile, Trinity, Dharanee and Mariesa start work on the electrical wiring connecting the controls and engine!


2 February - Team work makes the dream work!

We continue our work on the doors.

25 January - Snip Snip!

​We moved our focus to the doors of our plane today, cutting out pieces from a huge polycarbonate sheet (the same as the one we used for our windscreen) to fit the door frames the other group had made.​

18 January - Mind your fingers

​​Our job this session was to drill holes through both the cowling and the windscreen so ​​​​​we could rivet them together later. To do this properly, though, one person had to keep the polycarbonate sheet up against the cowling, while the other drilled through from the other side.​​ Disclaimer: no hands were hurt in the production of this aeroplane!

11 January - Do NOT scratch the windscreen

Happy New Year!

Today we started​​​ installing the windscreen we had been busy preparing the weeks bef​​​ore Christmas​​​​​. ​​​​​

30 November - No, not that drill

When Zara and I were assigned to "drilling" today, I was unperturbed. 'Pretty standard," I thought. But as I went to pick ​up the power tool I have become rather acquainted with, Peter stopped me, turning me to face the new installation in the corner of the room I had not yet noticed. "Industrial Radial Drill", it read on the side. ​​​​​​​Whoa. ​​After getting over my initial awe, we got to work​​​​​​​​, taking turns to wind down the drill and watch as it cut through metal like it was nothing. ​​What a great day.

23 November - Celebrating the little things

Today we worked on putting in hinges for our doors. We started by measuring out eight equidistant points to drill. ​This went relatively smoothly. Drilling, however, was a separate matter altogether- somehow, we had to drill through the ​​​cowl without touching the pole behind it. Eventually, with one person lifting the cowl off the pole and some very careful drilling, we managed it! 

10 November - Level-headed

Today we worked on the cowl (the part that covers the engine), or more specifically, on how to cut a space for the ​radiator-oil cooler duo into it. ​


​After a long 45 minutes of hard work, we played around with a spirit level (no, this is not part of some fantasy computer game, it is in fact the yellow tool below), used to make sure surfaces are parallel to (in this case) the ground. 

Here, we have Olivia balancing it on her head. One might say she was... level-headed.​


19 October - Radiators and Oil Coolers

Seventeen percent
of the school year has now passed!
But work continues...

Today, we worked to
attach the radiator 
to the oil cooler​.

We drilled, riveted,​ 
​​and measured to make sure that
it was all aligned.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Why so serious?​​
When drilling a hole, focus
is imperative!

And, some say it takes
seventeen muscles to smile!​
Seventeen? A​​​​gain?

Did you know haikus
have seventeen (!)​​​ syllables?
Have a nice half term!

12 October - Presentation is key

Today, we tidied up all our work over the past few weeks, changing all ​​​​the black cadding a few bolts and changing all black c​able ties to translucent white ones - presentation is key.​

And in the photo, witness a typical scene in the Microlight ​workshop: hardwork and smiles.​​​

5 October - ENGINEering works in progress

28 September - Get fuelled up!

Fuel tanks added!

14 September - New year, new recruits, new look

Welcome back to school everyone, and a special welcome to the newest members of our Microlight team, Derin and Dharanee!

22 June - Making Progress

Life hack: If you need to cut a cylindrical object, in order to get a straight line, wrap a piece of tape around it so the ends meet perfectly and follow the line it makes!

In the third-last week of term, we are slowly fitting the outer frame of our plane on, bit by bit, and adding some controls into the cockpit.

8 June - "Icarus is flying too close to the sun" ~ Bastille

In Greek Mythology, Icarus had a pair of wings made for him by his father, Daedalus. Against his father's warnings, he flew too high up- the wax holding his wings together melted and he fell to his death.

But don't worry, the wings of our plane aren't made of wax or feathers.

Having taken off the frame of the wings from our plane, our work for the next couple of weeks is finishing them off!

18 May - Seats In!

In the picture below we see Welly, Lucy and Zelie working hard to fully attach the seats to the plane. We also see Lottie, who seems to be have grown a few feet!

27 April - Summer Term, Best Term

Back from Easter and flying straight into exam season! ​​​​Today, we worked on the ailerons (basically little wings that help control the plane when it is rolling), but more importantly, ​we finally put in the seats (permanently)! 

Seats in the Microlight

16 March 2017 - We have WINGSSSSSSSS!

Read the title, enough said. 

​The excitement!

Wings going on Microlight

Above: The Microlight on 13 March - wings to go on next!

Microlight Project2 March 2017 - Don't step back!

Today, while everyone else continued to lace up the plane, Zara and I drilled a hole for our trim tab- which is thrilling and all, but what I want to know is,​ which law of physics explains the strange attraction between my knee and the joystick?

23 February 2017 - In the belly of the beast

Ellie, Lucy, Zara and I have started lacing together the bottom of the plane. And e​veryone else? I honestly, don't really know what they were up to. I was too engrossed in my own job. ​Oops...

9 February 2017 - Put on some clothes

We drilled holes through poles.
We worked towards our common goals​.
We toiled and laboured with all our souls.​ ​
But there was still something missing. 
Our project was bare, naked, exposed. 
And so​ we gave it some clothes:

2 February 2017 - A l'avenir

Having passed inspection​​​​​ day with flying colours, we convened to have a whole-team meeting to discuss the future, filled with all sorts of exciting prospects- the sky is, after all, the limit. 

Of course, no team-get-together is complete without a photoshoot: 

The Group with the Microlight

27 January 2017 - The Inspector Called

The day finally came: it was time for our plane to be inspected. 

​​​​​​​​​Every bar, every bolt, every little detail of our plane was scrutinised. At the end, the inspector had one word for us: Impressive (well it was more than that but one is more dramatic).


12 January 2017 - Things a plaster won't fix

Today was interesting. 

First, one of the hundreds of bolts we had secured was screwed in too tight, which effectively crushed* one of our pipes.

*crushed may be slightly hyperbolic

5 January 2017 - A new year and a classics lesson

Work on the EngineAs we learnt from our first prayers of term, the month of January is named after the Roman god Janus (or Ianus), often portrayed as having two faces facing in opposite directions. And so presumably, January is the month for looking back and forward. (Note also that 'Ianus' is derived from 'ianua' meaning door ie. January is the month of transition)

Looking back, we have come so far on our Microlight journey, and we wouldn't be here without Welly, Angus, Mr Commander and Peter, so thank you all for guiding us through these 3 months, teaching us all that you have taught us, and being patient with us as we tried not to break everything.

Looking forward, we have started on the engine for our aeroplane (coming from the Greek 'aer' meaning air and 'planos' meaning wandering)! Woooooo!

2 December 2016 - Tool of the Week!

​As it is the start of December, the Microlight Team wanted to start the festive season with our favourite tool of the week.

This week, the tool of the week is... the safety wire twisting plier (it's got a nice ring to it hasn't it?). This safety wire (or locking-wire) is an extremely intriguing type of positive locking device that prevents fasteners from loosening or falling out due to vibration and other forces; this is essential in order to keep everything in place.

I know for sure along with the rest of the team that this was a very enjoyble discovery!

We hope you have a lovely Christmas and see you in January!

Girl drilling hole in pipe24 November 2016

When building a plane, everything needs to be perfect- if you drill a hole slightly too big, you risk your plane slowly falling apart over time... but don't worry! We have experts at hand to make sure everything is just right!

17 November 2016

It's week 8 and it's not just our two-month anniversary that there is to celebrate! We have started work on our wings!

​With this being the highlight of our week, we were of course, ecstatic.

10 November 2016

It's Week 7, and notice anything different? ​We have pilot seats! This new instalment is temporary, unfortunately, because we still have much more to build- but an exciting development, nonetheless! 

3 November 2016

​After a much too long break from aeroplane-building during Half Term, we are back at it again for Week 6! 

Eager to make progress, we persevered and achieved success! *applause*​ At the end of our session we joined the plane's frame, originally in two parts (tail and body), to form the ​foundations of our masterpiece. ​

The Microlight being built

9 October 2016

Our second session of Microlight saw a bump in the road on our Microlight journey, which ended up with us having to take down the wheels the first group put up! Sad times, but can we fix it? Yes, we can! 

We set to quick work filing down the metal leg the wheel connected to (it was in the way of a bolt), and having fixed that, are on our way to a fully-wheeled frame! ​

6 October 2016

Just back from putting the first wheels on the plane!!! Although we were down  one staff member, with Angus in Wisconsin, and having some difficulties with the nuts and bolts, we managed to successfully attach a wheel! We've left it down to the other group to finish the job...

22 September 2016

It’s the third week of the Microlight Project, and things are going great - if you don’t count the part where one of the teams forgot to put in a metal washer and had to deconstruct everything they had made progress on.

But not to worry, with some quick-thinking and incredible team-work, they were able to fix everything that had gone wrong, and went on to the next phase of the building. Team Two, on the other hand, puzzled over the structure of one of the frames for the entire 45-minute session, but in the end, they managed to get it done!

There have been some head-scratching moments, but we are back on track and more than ready for Week Four.

15 September 2016

Today was our second session building our plane. One group continued working on the fuselage while the other worked on the wheels. ​