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Youngsters test flights of fancy

By Staff
By BILL SANDIFER Staff Writer
About 30 pilots assembled on the flight line Thursday, planes at the ready.
The planes were paper; the pilots, students at Eastern Elementary celebrating First Flight Week, an observance of flight-related activities in anticipation of the 2003 First Flight Centennial. The latter celebration will mark the 100th anniversary of the Wright brother's first powered flight on the Outer Banks.
Students designed and decorated their own planes, and assembled for a fly-off -- the pilot with the longest distance flown to be hailed the winner.
In the spirit of first flight, the first take-off of the day set the mark to beat, the plane landing just short of the far side of the circle students had formed to watch.
The craft varied as much as the flights, with the simple, white delta-wing plane being the predominant design. But some students applied fancy "paint" jobs to their creations, color selections limited only by crayon choice.
There were lazy flights that drifted with the breeze, a boomerang flight that returned to the launch area and a high, banking flight that dived on the crowd, bouncing harmlessly off a grinning student.
The last flight of the afternoon, however, bested the first by a comfortable margin. First-grader Tyler Linson's creation flew a fast, arcing trajectory that tracked like a missile, landing almost in the laps of students on the other side of the circle.
Classmates cheered as a grinning Tyler picked up a nifty gold trophy inscribed "First Flight Week Long Distance Contest."
The spirit of competition saw a few tears of dismay, but exuberance won out. As Tyler walked back to his classroom, trophy in hand, classmates cheered, "Tyler, Tyler, Tyler."