ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local students are soaring to greatness after their hard work paid off on the world stage. From Albuquerque all the way to Romania, students put their skills to the test. Three local teens competed this past week in the World Championships for Indoor Duration Model Aircraft.
“We trim them very carefully to fly in a circle the entire flight. They gently climb to the ceiling. The higher the ceiling is the longer they can fly and then they work their way back down,” said coach of the US Junior Team F1D Indoor Airplanes, Chuck Andraka.
The Albuquerque group – Elijah Rose, Quinn Sorbello, Odessa Wignall – and a fourth teen from Texas made the U.S. Junior Team. After tryouts in July in Tennessee, the team qualified for the world championships. Then last week in Romania, they placed second in the world for the Junior Team Finish.
“I think it teaches me patience and perseverance and the importance of hard work,” said Elijah Rose.
Fifteen-year-old Rose is proud of his team. One of his planes flew for almost 19 minutes at the championships. World championships were held inside a salt mine 800 feet underground, the space and temperature made for perfect flying conditions.
Competitors said it’s quite a task to avoid hitting walls and damaging the planes. The models can fly for up to 30 minutes and are made out of materials like balsa wood, boron, carbon fiber, and mylar. Weighing a little more than a gram, each craft can take more than 60 hours to build.
Coach Andraka mentioned the program prepares the students for STEM careers. He added the students learned to take data on the flights and learned how to improve their models. Part of the experience was also learning from Albuquerque resident Brett Sandborn. He defended his world champion title in the adult ranks.
“It’s a big honor to come away with a win and we’re glad that we have more youth involved, especially the big crowd here in Albuquerque,” said Brett Sandborn.
Andraka added two of the three kids from Albuquerque who qualified for the next round of team trials next June. The students hope to qualify for the next world championships in two years.