He’s engineering his next plane

You’re 200 feet above the ground, surrounded by the blue sky with the clouds in your face. Flying? Almost. This is what sophomore Kevin Jensen sees on a daily basis through the first-person view goggles on his handmade remote controlled (RC) planes.

“I think what makes me stand out is that I really enjoy flying planes. I love trying to go as far as possible with them,” Jensen said. “The best flights are when you either fly low to the ground and dodge things like trees. On a mini quad, it’s really exciting and enhances your skills by trying to go through small openings at high speed.”

When a plane he bought broke down, Jensen decided to build his own planes instead of buy them with the help of “Flitetest,” a Youtube channel. He uses foam boards from Dollar Tree and a hot glue gun as a cheaper alternative to build and repair.

“My favorite part is having something that you build actually work and it feels really good,” Jensen said. “I chose this hobby because you actually learn from this about flying electronics. You have to learn how to program [the planes], and it’s not that easy.”

Last summer, Jensen spent two months building a long range plane with $600 worth of equipment, including an ultra high frequency band and an autopilot. On its third flight at Suzanne Park, the autopilot malfunctioned while the plane crashed from 200 feet up and was obliterated when the battery caught on fire.

“It made me really upset especially since it took so long to make, that I didn’t build planes for three weeks,” Jensen said. “However, I just got this urge again to start flying again because started watching first-person view videos on Youtube and I remembered how fun it was.”

Jensen has been building planes for one and a half years and makes one plane each month. When everything is working properly, he goes outside to fly them.

“I am more patient now. In the beginning, I wouldn’t be happy [when it crashes] because I have to ride my bike there and there’s a huge hill,” Jensen said. “So it’s really disappointing if I don’t get to fly and I have to go back.”

To document his own process of building and helping others assemble the Skywalker 1900 HK plane, Jensen recorded a tutorial video on Youtube.

“It was really confusing to build so it’s nice to help others since other people will be able to build it too,” Jensen said. “It helps people get into the hobby which means more people in this community.”

When Jensen goes out to test his planes, he meets other adults who fly planes and talks to them about the details of the quadcopter and its functions.

“Although I haven’t found any [of my friends] who do this, [the adults] are really exciting to talk to and to talk to other people in general. It feels great because you can relate on flying with them,” Jensen said.

Jensen’s experience in making planes has influenced his interest in his future profession in electronics or engineering.

“On a plane, it is fun to just cruise around and just enjoy the view. It’s also really fun to fly high and far as the view is wonderful and it feels like a real plane,” Jensen said. “[Making planes] is hands on and you actually enjoy doing it.”

By Olivia Chiang, Feature editor