Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Pilot Briefing: AOPA Action

Full STEM ahead

First High School Aviation Symposium a success

By Ian J. Twombly

More than 150 educators, administrators, pilots, and aviation industry leaders came together to share ideas in Lakeland, Florida, November 9, 2015, during AOPA’s inaugural High School Aviation Symposium.

The meeting was the kickoff of AOPA’s plan to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs around the country. Leaders and teachers from programs as diverse as aviation-centric high schools and small after-school clubs came together to network, learn why aviation STEM education is important, and understand how they could start or improve their own programs.

“I got my start in a ground school class in high school,” AOPA President Mark Baker said in his remarks. He stressed that supporting students in high school will result in long-term industry growth, and that AOPA is committed to the cause.

Attendees toured the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, the host school of the event. The academy is associated with Lakeland’s Kathleen High School. Students come from all over the area to learn about avionics, maintenance, aviation, and engineering. More than 40 students earned a private pilot certificate through the school.

To give high school education leaders an opportunity to learn from each other, AOPA formed the National High School Aviation Leadership Alliance, whose charter members will be aviation high school principals, CEOs, superintendents, program leaders, and guidance counselors. A meeting of the alliance will be held each year at a different aviation high school to give these leaders a chance to share best practices and learn firsthand from one another about the variety of aviation education programs, curricula, and formats. AOPA has tapped Patrick Cwayna, CEO of the West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to head up the leadership alliance as one part of the association’s three-part plan to strengthen high school aviation education nationwide.

AOPA also plans a nationwide group of high school aviation career clubs and a support structure that will help fund various STEM programs, and their students, with grants and other backing.

Email [email protected]

Headlines that affect you

Recent news from the aviation world

Plan to replace WACs released
The FAA announced plans to ensure that pilots have the information they need as the agency phases out world aeronautical charts. —AOPA Online

With Ex-Im authorization in limbo, GA shipments fall
GAMA reports a 6.5-percent decline in fixed-wing deliveries compared with 2014 and a 5.9-percent decline in rotorcraft deliveries. —AIN Online

Houston spaceport plan detailed
The Houston Airport System has secured FAA approval and will be working with NASA to build a spaceport at Ellington Airport. AOPA is watching closely. —AOPA Online

Jetman formation flight with the world’s largest airliner
An Emirates Airbus A380 and Jetman pilots Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet pushed the boundaries over the skies of Dubai in a choreographed flight. —Aviation Week

1.5 million: Number of notams issued in a calendar year. The FAA’s new website for searching notices to airmen—designed to replace PilotWeb—is in its final phase. AOPA participated in the Notam Improvement Panel and worked with the FAA to identify shortcomings of the system. “The new Notam Search website offers tremendous capabilities and can really cut down on the frustration of reading pages of notams,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of government affairs for airspace and air traffic. “I encourage all pilots to explore what it has to offer.” The United States is the leading issuer of notams in the world.


Baker on the move

AOPA President Mark Baker serves on many aviation boards and committees including the AOPA Board of Trustees and AOPA Foundation Board of Visitors, RTCA, MITRE, ERAU’s President’s Advisory Board, the NextGen Advisory Board, and the Seaplane Pilots Association.

December 8—University of North Dakota
December 15—Home for the holidays

January 11—State of the Industry roundtable
January 18—City of Hope, Las Vegas
January 22—Living Legends of Aviation, Los Angeles

“This legislation has come this far because of the AOPA members who contacted their elected officials more than 94,000 times last year seeking support for PBR2 and medical reform.” —on the Senate Commerce Committee’s passage of an amendment to the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2.

Action in the states

Alaska Region
A user survey to evaluate the demand for a new airport and floatplane facility in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough of Alaska was extended to allow time for input from pilots and aviation business owners. Survey questions asked participants to provide input on three possible locations in the southern part of the Mat-Su Valley. The potential locations include Goose Bay Airport with a new pond, Big Lake Airport with a new pond, or Seven Mile Lake. Participants also were asked to rank the importance of various factors in selecting a place to base their aircraft or business.

Northwest Mountain Region
Helicopter pilots in the Salem, Oregon, area will conduct Christmas tree harvesting operations despite a recent expansion of Class D airspace around McNary Field (SLE). The new Hot Springs County Airport (HSG) near Thermopolis, Wyoming, opened in November 2015, increasing safety and night landing options for aircraft in the area, which serves as a gateway to Yellowstone. An active pilot community, donations, and help from the U.S. Forest Service will bring Idaho’s Big Creek Lodge back to life. Plans are to have the lodge fully functional in 2017.

Western Pacific Region
Two Arizona students are among the winners of the 2015 AOPA AV8RS scholarships for teenagers pursuing aviation-related goals. Nicholas Remele is pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering at Arizona State University, and Dylan Kuchan is a high school senior studying aviation at the East Valley Institute of Technology. The Perlan 2, a pressurized glider built to soar to the edge of space, was in California for ground vibration tests at ATA Engineering in San Diego.

Central Southwest Region
AOPA Central Southwest Regional Manager Yasmina Platt is watching developments surrounding an FAA-approved plan to build a spaceport at Ellington Airport in Houston, Texas. The airport was the site of more than 50,000 GA operations in 2014, and AOPA wants to be sure the needs of GA users are considered. AOPA will play a role in New Mexico’s Aviation Day at the state Capitol on January 22. Platt will be on hand to discuss the value of general aviation and state GA issues with lawmakers.

Great Lakes Region
Students in Parkland College’s new associate aviation program claimed a third-place finish in a regional flight competition just weeks after the college took over the program from the University of Illinois. The school earned a spot in the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s 2016 Safecon competition. An AOPA-backed Michigan bill to require the marking and registration of weather towers passed the state House of Representatives in November. In Indiana, AOPA met with airport and FBO management from the Dekalb County Airport.

Southern Region
Tuskegee University announced scholarships for freshmen who want to jump-start their engineering careers. The scholarships are funded by Lockheed Martin and will pay for an eight-week summer course that includes math, science, engineering, and graphics classes. The course will help incoming freshmen succeed in their studies and provides up to seven course credits toward a bachelor’s degree in engineering. The historically black Alabama school is known for producing the Tuskegee Airmen who flew P–51 Mustangs during World War II.

Eastern Region
Aviation enthusiasts had the opportunity to meet one of two surviving members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, who flew a secret mission to bomb Japan’s mainland in 1942. Dick Cole was co-pilot to James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle on the first of 16 B–25 bombers to take off from the USS Hornet on the raid. Cole and the B–25 Panchito, owned by the Delaware Aviation Museum, visited AOPA’s National Aviation Community Center in Frederick, Maryland. Cole signed copies of his book Dick Cole’s War, the proceeds of which go to the Doolittle Raider Scholarship Fund.

AOPA staff met with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Office of Aeronautics to provide feedback on the department’s efforts to update and strengthen state airport zoning protections.

Related Articles