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FHS student becomes a world champ
Ray part of F1-D model airplane flight success


There’s a world champion walking the halls of Farragut High School.

Nicholas Ray, a senior at FHS, was recently part of a three-person team that won the U.S. Junior Indoor Free Flight World Championship in Slanic, Romania.


Teams representing 14 countries displayed their indoor F1-D model airplanes, weighing only 1.2 grams, in the salt mines of Romania Oct. 2-7.

“I’m really still tired since I got back,” Ray said, three days after returning from the championship.

“After you get placed on a team it’s about another year of traveling and intense preparation for the World Championship.”

Ray qualified for the championship after placing in the top three at the final competition in the United States July 2005. Ray was placed on the U.S. team with Ethan Aaron, from Wayland, Mass., and Dustin Young, from Smithton, Ill, who also placed in the top three during the final competition.

Ray has never received formal training, but read books and gathered information from other builders throughout the country.

Despite very few people in East Tennessee building these planes, Ray was attracted to the building process when he was 11-years-old.

“It’s really quiet and very peaceful and yet it’s still really challenging to build,” Ray said. “I also enjoy being able to travel and meet other people.”

The F1-D airplanes Ray builds are complete with a motor, and made of micron Mylar and different carbon materials. These planes are relatively cheap to build, normally costing under $300.

The assimilation process is no easy task though, and can take more than 150 hours of detailed work, Ray said.

The time aloft, or time the plane is in the air, determines each teams’ rank during competitions. Two flights take place per team, and the final score for that team is the sum of the two flight times. During the World Championship the U.S. team won with a 56.57-minute time.

Flight times usually hover around 30 minutes, but because of the colder weather in Romania and the placement of the competition underground, the time aloft for the planes was lower during the Championship, Ray said.

“The U-S has a good history of winning in competitions, so we were all pretty worried,” Ray said. “We wanted to do pretty well and not embarrass our country.”

Preparation for the U.S. team involved traveling to many states including Georgia, New Jersey, Indiana and Ohio for small competitions within the last year. They also met with former pilots and team managers.

Ray began building model airplanes as a student at Vine Margaret Middle School, and enjoyed the classes so much he continued studying and learning the trade of making model airplanes in high school.

Ray now plans on majoring in aeronautical engineering when he enters a college or university within the next year. He is currently unsure where he will be applying.

 

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