by Nicole McPhate for APSD
Arkadelphia High School students are getting a unique opportunity. They are getting the chance to fly. Through a three-way partnership with Dawson Co-Op, Henderson State University and Arkadelphia Public Schools, the students are able to follow an aviation curriculum and log real flight hours. Because of this opportunity, students will be well prepared and even ahead for their aviation degree from Henderson, if they choose to continue. David Maxwell, the Arkadelphia High School principal, shared his excitement about the program and what it means for his students.
Students who are sophomores and enrolled in Algebra II are eligible for the aviation path. If they are interested, they just sign up for the classes. AHS has eleven students in year one of the program, seven students in year two and four students starting year three in the fall.
“The class is taught by a certified flight instructor either on site or from another location”, according to Maxwell. Once every two weeks one of the aviation students is allowed forty-five minutes to an hour to log hours in a flight simulator. The flight simulator is a trailer that contains wrap-around screens that create an exact replica of the instructional aircraft at Henderson. A flight instructor is in the simulator and programs what will happen during the simulation. The student “starts the engine and flies: it is a real working airplane,” shares Maxwell.
If a student chooses to continue with aviation through Henderson, they will have accumulated seven college credits and have logged 100 flight hours by the time they graduate AHS. These hours will count towards their degree and private pilot’s license. The students are getting an experience like no other, since this is the first program of it’s kind for the state of Arkansas.