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December 10, 2009
By Ian J. Twombly
High school students in Horry County, S.C., may soon get the chance to experience flight training or airframe and powerplant training, thanks to a joint resolution by the county council and school board.
AOPA member Al Allen, a county councilman since 2001, helped start the initiative in order to both make use of existing airport facilities and give high school kids in the area exposure to aviation. “I can help through my office to give back to the kids in the area,” he said.
Allen initially came up with the idea as a way to help preserve the airport he uses for his aerial application business. A flight school and airframe and powerplant school that occupied county-owned buildings recently went out of business, so Allen and a friend on the school board approached the county school superintendent, who loved the idea of getting kids involved in aviation.
Over the coming months Allen and his colleagues will work with the local vocational school to provide instructors and equipment necessary to get specially screened high school juniors and seniors into classes leading to pilot and airframe and powerplant certificates.
“We’re shooting for a fall 2010 opening,” Allen said. “But it’s a long shot. More than likely it will be winter 2011.”
To help the students gain employment and further cement the program, Allen plans to reach out to Boeing, which recently announced plans to build a major plant fewer than 100 miles from the airport. “If they are able to provide scholarship money or internships,” Allen said, “it will be a win-win for everyone involved.”
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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