With graduation less than a week ago, one Thomas County Central High School alumna has found a way to save airlines millions on fuel, and she hasn't even started her college career yet.
Senior class president, drum major, athlete, and inventor Natasha Barbely says, "I've always loved airplanes and I wanted to do something cool."
Doing research with professors and graduate students at Auburn University, Natasha Barbeley says her science project on aeronautics turned into something bigger than she ever imagined.
Barbely adds, "I found a problem along the way."
But more importantly, Natasha found a solution. She designed a new wing for airplanes by cutting a slit through the wing, helping the air flow.
Barbely says, "With this wing, because it saves on lift or increases the lift, it will be able to save on fuel."
The wing design earned Natasha first place in her high school and the regional science fair, second place at state, and recognition from the Air Force and the American Aeronautic and Astronautic Association, and teachers say they're not surprised.
Michael Mayhall, band director at Thomas County Central, says, "I think something great is going to come from Natasha. She's going to invent new things and bring a whole new mindset to the science community."
This summer Natasha will be one of only 25 students in the country to attend the International Youth Science Leadership Institute, and Barbely says she's ready for the challenge.
Barbely says, "Anything's possible and I know being a girl it's going to help me in a way. It's going to help other girls to have that drive and passion to do whatever they want."
And for this young woman, the sky's the limit as she spreads her wings and plans on a doctorate, and a patent on her invention.
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