Fifth-Grade Internet Flight from Indiana to Seattle

Fifth-grade science teacher Richard Beamer is at it again. He is planning another on-line science adventure for his students by flying his S-4 Coyote from Wabash, Indiana to Seattle, Washington.* "I enjoy teaching science to all three of our fifth-grades at Southwood Elementary in Wabash, Indiana," says Beamer. "For the last 2 years we have created Internet adventures. Two years ago we flew an ultralight to San Diego and I e-mailed the students daily of our adventures and misadventures. Last year we paddled 800 miles down our rivers to Memphis, Tennessee, again e-mailing the kids using our laptop. This fall we propose to spend the first month of school preparing for our next expedition: flying from Indiana to Seattle following the old northern route across the high plains and through the Rocky Mountain passes.

"In science class we will learn about airplanes, weather, and how to make Webpages. In math we will do the navigation. We will also read two children's aviation novels, and in writing class, the kids will e-mail schools along our route, inviting them to follow along on-line. Then the students will launch me, their teacher/pilot, in our S-4 Coyote, along with a laptop and camping gear."

Beamer plans to e-mail the students each day about his adventures and misadventures, and will include digital pictures and information about geographic and historic points of interest that the students will have learned about while planning the flight. The students will then edit his e-mailed text and digital pictures with the help of their technology teacher, and make a new Webpage, a journal entry, linked to their Website.

"Whether or not we actually make it all the way to Seattle is not important," explains Beamer, who was able to underwrite this endeavor with a grant from the Community Foundation. "We will already have achieved 90% of our objectives during the first month of school before taking off in the Coyote, because of the curriculum and flight planning we will have completed."

Beamer plans to fly direct from northern Indiana to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, then follow I-90 all the way to Seattle. "If you live along our route and have a grass strip where we might camp, or if you have tools we could use, or if you have suggestions about points of interest or navigation tips, we would appreciate your phone number or e-mail address," says Beamer.

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*See "Flightlines: Beamer Makes Successful Flight," Ultralight Flying! magazine December '00.