Howell, Mich.-based Crosswinds Aviation is hoping that a program it’s doing with Howell High School and the local EAA Young Eagles chapter will help get more youths interested in general aviation. Crosswinds and the high school hosted a Young Eagles event June 4 for students participating in the aviation ground school course starting at the high school this fall.
Matt Dahline, owner of Crosswinds Aviation, said he was first contacted about a school-based program by Ron Wilson, superintendent of the school system. “He grew up in Lovington, Mich., and he had participated in a similar program when he was in high school,” he said. “He believes in showing different career options to students, and he contacted me because of my work in the community and local Chamber of Commerce.”
The challenge, said Andrea Dahline, was that Wilson required the program not cost students anything, plus had to be cost neutral for the school. “So we had to figure out how to incorporate this into an existing program without anyone having to pay.”
After calling around, Matt said, he spoke with someone at Sporty’s. “I learned that Sporty’s gives its ground instruction program free to the Young Eagles. So I contacted our local Young Eagles coordinator and it went from there,” he said.
The first step was having students become members of the EAA Young Eagle's program by taking their first flight with Young Eagle's volunteer pilots. The membership will give them access to the Sporty's online Private Pilot Ground School course when the student begins the course next year, which will be used as the base curriculum for the high school course.
The next challenge was finding a teacher, said Matt. “We found a teacher with a private pilot license, and he is working on his ground instructor rating so he can teach the course using Sporty’s as the core curriculum,” he said. “He is working with us, Sporty’s, and the Young Eagles to create a syllabus for the class.”
Students will come to Crosswinds Aviation once a week to get hands-on experience in an aircraft, said Matt. “They’ll look at our aircraft’s engine and see how systems work. They’ll get hands-on experience,” he said. “We’ll also bring in industry speakers like FAA pilot examiners, mechanics, and weather experts.” They will also get their first flight lesson paid for and written exam reimbursed if they pass the test through the program, he added.
The hope is that after being exposed to aviation industry experts and taking the course, students will know more about aviation, Matt said. The program starts in September, with 25 students going through each semester, he added.